Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Keith Parsons reviews Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

While you're waiting (if you're waiting) for me to get my review of Greenwald's Tragic Legacy up, you should check out the excellent review of Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming at The Secular Outpost. The only thing I would say negative is that I don't much care for the use of the term "Christo-fascist" as it sounds - to me - like a slogan.

Happy Halloween

Can other primates speak?

eSkeptic is skeptical.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


While I continue to work on transforming my draft into a post (to many problems to mention), I'm taking the opportunity to re-recommend adding the Seattle Times ongoing feature The Democracy Papers to your bookmarks if you haven't already done so.

Quote of the day

"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics." - Plutarch

Monday, October 29, 2007

Unless you're in the Witness Protection Program the family is fair game

Politics sinks to a new low.

You know, one of the most common tactics employed by extremists to intimidate their victims is to incite hatred towards them and then publish their personal information confident that they will be harassed or worse.

Quote of the day

"I must profess, while Heaven and Earth lasts, that no one Tenet that either London, England, or the World doth harbor, is so heretical, blasphemous, seditious, and dangerous to the corporal, to the spiritual, to the present, to the Eternal Good of Men, as the bloody Tenet ... of persecution for cause of Conscience." - Roger Williams, The Bloody Tenet, Yet More Bloody (1652)


I finished the review, but I'm not going to have time to transfer it from my notes to blogger today (takes longer than one would expect) as I've had something come up.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Back Monday

I'll be back to blogging on Monday. Along with finishing up some posts, I've been reading some candidates for book of the year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Blog hiatus

Sorta. I am not going to post again until I have finished my review of Tragic Legacy. I took a break from it for the last week and a half, and now I'm ready (I think) to return to it to finish it. So the next post I put up will be that. Best case scenario, it's up sometime tomorrow. But given my history, there's no telling when I'll actually be done.

So here's a dump from my notes to keep you occupied until I post again:

- I have had this in my bookmarks for some time waiting for an opportunity to incorporate it into a post. That hasn't happened yet, so I'll just provide the link - The Howling Wilderness of Pseudoconservatism by Werther.

-A quote from What Liberal Media? by Eric Alterman

Taken outside the singular context of U.S. politics ... the insistence that "Democrat" equals "liberal" grows even more problematic. The entire context of American politics exists on a spectrum that is itself well to the right of that in most industrialized democracies. During the 1990s, Bill Clinton was probably further to the right than most ruling West European conservatives, such as Germany's Helmut Kohl and France's Jaques Chirac. Indeed, virtually the entire axis of political conversation in the United States takes place on ideological ground that would be considered conservative in just about every nation in democratic Western Europe.
- "Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived." - Thomas Paine, Common Sense

- "... one of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington." - Bill Moyers

- "It is an easy step from restraining the press to making it place the worst actions of government in so favorable a light that we may groan under tyranny and oppresion without knowing from whence it comes." - "Cincinnatus, Nov. 2, 1787

- "When I get new information I change my position. What sir, do you do with new information?" - John Maynard Keynes

- "Evil that arises out of ordinary thinking and is committed by ordinary people is the norm, not the exception." - Zygmunt Bauman

- "If a branch of science like evolutionary theory is a tenet of religion, then the definition of religion is so sweeping that virtually everything is a religion, rendering the word meaningless." - Michael Shermer, Why Darwin Matters

- " He laid aside his pen only to die" - obituary of Alfred Russel Wallace

- "America is full of good people, but something dark is loose. There's a free floating anxiety that easily metastasizes into paranoia and hatred for the same enemies always targeted by authoritarian populist movements - homosexuals, urbanites, foreigners, intellectuals, and religous minorities. Rationallity is losing its hold; empirical evidence is discounted as the product of a secular worldview or a scheming liberal elite." - Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming

- "Islamic Bloc, Christian Right Team Up to Lobby U.N" click to be angred/frustrated.

- "Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty" - Simone Weil

- "One of the most striking tenets of the inner life of a crowd is the feeling of being persecuted, a peculiar angry sensitiveness and irritability directed against those it has once and forever nominated as enemies. These can behave in an manner, harsh or conciliatory, cold or sympathetic, severe or mild - whatever they do will be ineterpreted as springing from an unmistakable malevolence, a premediated intention to destroy the crowd, openly or by stealth." - Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power

- "Extremists never begin as extremists. They become extremists gradually. They move gingerly foward in an open society. They advance only so far as they fail to meet resistance. And no society is immune from this moral catastrophe." - Chris Hedges, American Fascists

- "Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost machine gun. I'd blow your head off!" Benny Hinn

He's not kidding

"And so the great battle for Christmas 2005 was won by traditional forces ..."

If you didn't know better, you'd expect the above was written as satire. But it wasn't. That's Bill O'Reilly in Culture Warrior - apparently seriously - bragging about how he saved Christmas in '05 ... okay, he doesn't flat out say he saved Christmas, but reading it one is left with the impression that O'Reilly does indeed believe that.

I was flipping through the book today and came across this bit of absurdity.

Quote of the day

"We all have to recognize that no matter how great our strength, we must deny ourselves the licence to do always as we please. No one nation ... can or should expect any special privelege which harms any other nation. Unless we are willing to pay that price, no organization for world peace can accomplish its purpose. And what a resonable price that is!" - Harry Truman (June 26, 1945)

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Serious consequences"

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." - Article 2, section 4 UN Charter

Now someone go tell VP Cheney (not that he cares.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Scrubs season premiere!

The first episode of the final season of Scrubs begins this Thursday at 9:30et on NBC. And from the previews it looks like 80s star Colin Hay of Men at Work music fame will be making another appearance.

More commentary on the George Soros is a Nazi meme

David Neiwert has written some thoughts about the apparent increase in frequency with which the conservative movement is depicting its enemies as fascists or Nazis.

After I read that I went to my local library and purchased for a dollar a "used" hardcover copy (complete with new book smell) of The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust by Martin Gilbert about the brave souls who risked their lives in Nazi occupied Europe to save Jewish lives from the Holocaust.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Quote of the day

"Power always sincerely, conscientiously, de très bon foi, believes itself right. Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God's Service, when it is violating all his Laws." - John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson (Feb. 2, 1816)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Translating English to Conservative speak

Now I understand why Sean Hannity says the things he says. It's because he has implanted in his ear some kind of version of the Babel fish that translates speech through the prism of conservative movement ideology.

Take a look:

Hillary Clinton says: "I helped to start and support Media Matters and Center for American Progress."

Sean Hannity hears: "Hillary Clinton has bragged that she founded this group Media Matters ... She bragged that she founded the group that John Podesta runs, The Center For American Progress."

Of course, it's interesting to note how the conservative Babel fish works. When Al Gore said. "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet," people with the conservative Babel fish heard "I invented the internet" and assumed Gore's more or less accurate description of his role in legislating the creation of the internet to be false. The conservative Babel fish revealed Gore to be a liar.

In this instance, however, the conservative Babel fish has revealed Hillary Clinton to be a mastermind behind a "shadow government." That Clinton may have been exxagerating her involvement in the origins of Media Matters and the Center for American Progress in order to pander to the crowd she was addressing does not seem to be up for consideration.

What a convenient thing the conservative Babel fish is. It tells you what you want to hear.

Echoes of the past

From The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error. The assumption of infallibility, moreover, is based not so much on superior intelligence as on the correct interpretation of the essentially reliable forces in history or nature, forces which neither defeat nor ruin can prove wrong because they are bound to assert themselves in the long run. Mass leaders in power have one concern which overrules all utilitarian considerations: to make their predictions come true ...

... The propaganda effect of infallibility, the striking success of posing as a mere interpreting agent of predictable forces, has encouraged in totalitarian dictators the habit of announcing their political intentions in the form of prophesy. The most famous example is Hitler's announcement to the German Reichstag in January, 1939: "I want today once again to make a prophesy: In case the Jewish financiers ... succeed once more in hurling the peoples into a world war, the result will be ... the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe." Translated into nontotalitarian language, this meant: I intend to make war and I intend to kill the Jews of Europe.
From President Bush during an Oct. 17, 2007 press conference:

I believe that the Iranian -- if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace.

But this -- we got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.
Translated from the President's totalitarian logic this can be taken to mean: The possibility that Iran could have a nuclear weapon is a dangerous threat to world peace. Since I'm interested in Iran not having a nuclear weapon, I am going to start World War III.

The reasoning, much like with Iraq, is circular. Starting a war proves that Iran was a danger to world peace (because a war with Iran is dangerous to world peace). If World War III starts because the US went to war with Iran, it proves that Iran having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon started World War III.

A caveat: Unlike Bill O'Reilly, I am not a mind-reader. I do not know that this is exactly how Bush is thinking. It could just be that the most generous interpretation of his statement - that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon it may start a nuclear war with Israel - is all he's thinking. But even that is a dangerous line of thought, given that hardly anyone besides neoconservatives holds the view that a nuclear armed Iran would start a nuclear war (although it is believed that it would spark a completely nuclear proliferated Middle East.)* But it is difficult to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt when we've already seen what his administration employ such circular logic to Iraq.

We have a President that has misled the nation on virtually every occasion that he has spoken to it. Our trust has been broken. I do not trust this President.

We have a President who believes there is no law in this nation that can preventing him from doing whatever he designates in the interest of national security. We have a Vice President who has plotted for at least 30 years on how to give president the powers of a monarch.

They must be impeached.

*Even here the President's totalitarian logic has become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Iran offered to negotiate every issue on the table in 2003 - including a peaceful nuclear energy progam and a two-state solution in Israel - and the Bush administration refused to even consider it. Bush had branded Iran as part of the Axis of Evil, and Evil can not be negotiated with (unless it already has nuclear weapons). The President Of Good can not give quarter to Evil. Which is why, I would guess, our "diplomacy" has amounted to do what we say or we're going to bomb you. If you are Iran and you see the other two members of the "Axis of Evil": the one that doesn't have nuclear weapons gets invaded and the one that does, does not - and your efforts at negotiation are rebuked; what conclusion would you draw? Might it be that the only way to prevent being attacked is to have nuclear weapons?

George Bush vs. American democracy

On Monday President Bush appointed Susan Orr to head up federal family planning services. Susan Orr is a religious right extremist (formerly an adjunct professor at Pat Robertson's Regent University) who believes that family planning is part of a "culture of death." Despite evidence that the programs are not effective, Orr supports abistence-only sexual education.

Bush's message to the American people is clear: despite the American people having enacted through their government a federal department meant to assist with family planning President Bush has appointed someone to destroy that department for personal religious reasons and/or to appease his religious right constituency. He is wiling to put his faith-based religous views above the health of the people of this country.

Regent University produces graduates who do not believe in democracy, but in authoritarian rule by people of God (aka other fundamentalists or their movement conservative allies.) The Bush administration has put 150 of these anti-democrats within our government. One of them was Bush loyalist Monica Goodling, the woman who was unwilling to promote another Justice Department employee on the grounds that she doesn't trust Democrats.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Should have seen it coming.

Regnery's Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible

In the beginning, the Bible triggered a revolution in human thought and later established Western civilization's moral and philosophical foundation. Many people though-from authors to pundits-mock it for their own purposes and political agendas. However, the Bible remains the bestselling book of all time,believed by nearly two billion people (Christians and Jews) to be divinely inspired. In his hard-hitting new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to The Bible, author Robert J. Hutchinson details the facts behind the numerous truths the anti-religious secularists don't want you to know about, including:

•Recent archaeological discoveries confirm the historical accuracy of many Bible stories
•The Bible made modern science possible (which is why it started in the Middle Ages)
•Biblical laws paved the way for democracy and limited government
•The Bible promotes human freedom
•The enemies of the Bible are enemies of true reason and tolerance.

In this new installment in the bestselling P.I.G. series, Hutchinson silences the secularists and atheists with historical evidence, undeniable facts, and insightful revelations-proving why the Bible is still the bestselling book of all time-and so much more.

I've obtained a copy. I'll report back if I can stomach reading it.

Uh oh. He's on to me

Richard Poe, the guy who accused Ed Brayton of being part of Hillary Clinton's "army of bloggers", issued a response to Brayton full of mental gymnastic attempting to link Brayton to Clinton. Brayton answered back pointing out that the work Poe (and co-author David Horowitz) had done is conspiratorial nonsense. In the comments I said this:

Considering that Hofstadter style paranoia piece was based on work he did with extreme leftist ideologue turned extreme rightist ideologue David Horowitz I'm not surprised.

That they think everyone is tied up in a Hillary/Soros one world socialist gov't plot says pretty much all that needs to be said about them. Not much reasoning with crazy.
To which Poe responded:

Hume's Ghost, may I inquire as to your own beliefs concerning global governance Are you for it or against it?
Are you kidding me? After someone jokingly told Poe that he should be concerned with the alien plot to take over the world I answered:

Damn, DuWayne outed me. I'm for a one universe gov't. But we can't give up our sovereignity to the multiverse!
Update: Poe keeps at it in further comments.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

In case you're keeping score

Bill O'Reilly, the guy who has said that one should never provide a forum for hate-mongering, had on his program last night - to comment on the S-P assault on traditional Christian America - Ann Coulter (viscious evil lunatic) and Ralph Reed (religious right extremist/probable anti-Semite and defender of near-slave labor.) And Donnie Deutsch, for taking offense at being told Jews need to be perfected and that he's not really Jewish, is "just a twerp" according to O'Reilly.

What more need be said about this Idiot-king of cable news?

John Doe is watching you

"If federal funds were required [they] could die for all I care. Let the parents get second jobs, let their state foot the bill or let them seek help from private charities.


I would hire a team of PIs and find out exactly how much their parents made and where they spent every nickel. Then I’d do everything possible to destroy their lives with that info." - Commenter at RedState blog

The rest of Dave Neiwert's "Watching the Bus Plunge" on Malkin and her quasi-vigilante pals is a must read. Then follow up with this post from Paul Krugman. And then remember that when Malkin directed the anger of her readers towards UC Santa Cruz she did that also under the premise that anyone or anything connected in some way to federal funds is to be "held accountable" by her fans.

Remember, "John Doe" is watching you for suspicious activity.

Monday, October 15, 2007

All roads lead to Hillary Clinton

Paranoid conspiratorial thinking strikes again. At least now I know where Neal Boortz gets his conspiracy theory from.

Hating the Liberal

Following up on the post from yesterday about Debbie Schlussel accusing "billionaire atheist Jew" George Soros of having "proudly worked for the Nazis rounding up Jews and sending them to their deaths," I wanted to make something explicit. I do not think, nor was I implying, that Schlussel is anti-Semitic.

However, I think she has internalized memes that are anti-Semitic in origin, but that she is unaware of this. The significance is that this gives merit both to the point I've been making about anti-"liberalism" being a p.c. form of hate and the one that Gore made in The Assault on Reason (which I will quote for the third time)

[Movement conservatives] speak of "liberals" with the kind of dripping contempt and virulent hostility that used to be associated with racism and sectarian strife.
Seeing the similarity in structure between what Schlussel is saying and anti-Semitism helps to illustrate that point about the type of hatred that is now being directed at "liberals." In this regard, I consider Coulter and company's hate to be a kind of "right-wing" parallell thinking.

Coulter and Shlussel seem to be joined by an ecumenicism of hatred. Coulter believes that Christian liberals are atheists. Schlussel believes that Jewish "libs" are atheists. They both hate Islamofascists and their domestic counterpart: the Liberal.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Beyond belief

In an Oct. 11th post at her website, Debbie Schlussel said that George Soros is a "a Jew who proudly worked for the Nazis rounding up Jews and sending them to their deaths."

That is actionable defamation. Has this woman no decency? Apparently not.

To support her claim, Schlussel linked to an April 18 post in which she smeared Soros (a Hungarian-born Jew who survived the Holocaust) as "a fake Holocaust survivor, who -- instead of 'surviving' the Holocaust -- helped the Nazis perpetrate it."
In addition to this truly heinous slander of George Soros

Schlussel also wrote in her post, "I believe Donny Deutch [sic] was lying about his own religious status" in the interview, and that she "doubt[s] that" he is a "practicing Jew," because "his show is on live during the Jewish Sabbath, and keeping the Jewish Sabbath is the most important commandment for a religious Jew to keep." During the interview, Coulter said to Deutsch: "Well, you could be a practicing Jew, but you're not." Deutsch responded: "I actually am. That's not true. I really am."

Additionally, Schlussel claimed, "True religious Jews are not offended by Ann's comments," and added, "It's only the Jewish libs, like Deutch [sic], who are feigning this shock and outrage. That's because she's a threat to their real religion: liberalism."
Mrs. Robinson at Orcinus has written about how the desire for Jews to be "perfected" implies in a fundamentalist context that Jews are somehow imperfect or broken ... that they are God's chosen people who have rejected Him by not accepting the divinity of Jesus.

[W]ith it comes the idea that somehow, Jews are "less than," or "other," or "don't belong," or that it's somehow OK with God if we treat them less than fairly. Or, worse: that they are broken and imperfect, especially compared with righteous Christians like Coulter who can smugly proclaim her own "perfection" on TV.That's a dangerous notion: we all know the evil places that kind of rhetoric can take us.
Yes, we do. In Hitler's Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen argued that it was the long tradition of doctrinal anti-Semitism within Christianity wedded to German nationalism that eventually gave birth to the eliminationist "solution" in Nazi Germany.

The crux of Schlussel's argument appears to be that Coulter can not be anti-Semitic because she supports the state of Israel. This is hardly indication in itself that Coulter is not an anti-Semite, since it is well understood that numerous fundamentalist Christians are vocal "supporters" of Israel because they believe its existence is essential to the Rapture occuring (after which point non-converted Jews will die in the End Times). This can be understood as anti-Semitic zionism.

But the most astonishing and disturbing part of Schlussel's post is her trafficing in memes that are instantly recognizable as being common anti-Semitic themes. She calls "billionaire atheist Jew" international financier (and one world socialist according to the conservative movement) George Soros a "fake Holocaust survivor" and accuses him of being a Nazi who rounded up Jews and sent them to their death. George Soros was a target of the Nazis, to falsely blame an international financier "billionaire atheist Jew" for Nazi crimes ... it is beyond belief.

Then there is the bit about the true religion of "Jewish libs" being liberalism. "Liberalism" in conservative movement speak is essentially a synonym for communism. Fascism in Nazi Germany was specifically a reaction against liberalism, and it was common there for Jews to be equated with liberalism/communism (the Nazis barely made a distinction; e.g. "After cleansing German art ... from the poison of the liberal-Jewish-Marxist era"), as well at to accuse wealthy liberal Marxist Jews of manipulating public opinion.

Marxism could not be eliminated by a government decision. Its elimination was the end result of a process that began with the people. But that was only possible because our propaganda had shown people that Marxism was a danger to both the state and society. The positive national discipline of the German press would never have been possible without the compete elimination of the influence of the liberal-Jewish press.
Schlussel's charges sounds like a distorted, distant echo of all that. It is testament to the notion that memes can live and evolve and can be fit to new ideologies (in this instance that of movement conservatism.)

What have we become?

Andrew Sullivan:

George Orwell would have been impressed by the phrase “enhanced interrogation technique”. By relying on it, the White House spokesman last week was able to say with a straight face that the administration strongly opposed torture and that “any procedures they use are tough, safe, necessary and lawful”.

So is “enhanced interrogation” torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. Verschärfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the “third degree”. It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation. The United States prosecuted it as a war crime in Norway in 1948. The victims were not in uniform – they were part of the Norwegian insurgency against the German occupation – and the Nazis argued, just as Cheney has done, that this put them outside base-line protections (subsequently formalised by the Geneva conventions).

The Nazis even argued that “the acts of torture in no case resulted in death. Most of the injuries inflicted were slight and did not result in permanent disablement”. This argument is almost verbatim that made by John Yoo, the Bush administration’s house lawyer, who now sits comfortably at the Washington think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

Frank Rich:

[W]e must ... examine our own responsibility for the hideous acts committed in our name in a war where we have now fought longer than we did in the one that put Verschärfte Vernehmung on the map.


Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

Intellectual blogging

I've been tagged by Paul at Cafe Philos as one of his five recipients (here, here, here, and here are the others) of the Intellectual Blogger Award

This award is intended for those bloggers who demonstrate an inclination to think on their own. This is what I think is needed in today’s blogosphere. The term ‘Intellectual’ has often been derided in recent times, and this is one way to resurrect the true meaning: “An intellectual is one who tries to use his or her intellect to work, study, reflect, speculate on, or ask and answer questions with regard to a variety of different ideas.”
Paul has flattered me with words that I feel are far too kind, but I will use them as a reminder of the type of blogging that I would like to strive for. It is a tone and style that I feel has been absent from my posts - a casualty of my frustration and anger at what is happening to our country perhaps. When I started blogging my intent was to write about things that I found interesting in a tone that would encourage readers to engage their intellectual curiosity and to write in a way that was not insular in the sense that it did not preach to the choir, yet I have found myself growing increasingly shrill and my topic focus increasingly narrow since that time. Paul's words will inspire me to attempt to get back to my original goal, or at the very least to keep sight of it.

Enough about me. I enjoy the opportunity being tagged awards me to spotlight some of the blogs that I consider live up to the ideal of intellectual blogging. These are in no particular award:

  • Atheist Ethicist - Alonzo Fyfe perfectly fits the quoted definition of an intellectual blogger. He writes about various topics framed around the thought-work (another of my attempts at Colberting a word) he has done in developing his system of desire utilitarianism. In addition, Alonzo offers brief additional comments on current events at Atheist Ethicist Journal. One need only read a single post from Mr. Fyfe to see the amount of thought and consideration that has gone into what he has written. It is impossible to visit his blog without putting your thinking cap on.
  • The Vanity Press - Chett Scoville is a medievalist who teaches at the University of Toronto. He often is able to relate his expertise in literature and the Middle Ages to current issues in an interesting manner, and writes thoughtfully about politics, culture, and religion. Mr. Scoville (or is it Professor?) seems to read a vast amount of blogs and frequently spotlights essential reading. In addition, his weekly art selections are always exquisite.
  • Rationally Speaking - I've already written that Massimo Pigliucci (a professor of biology and philosophy) was one of the inspirations for this blog (although you'll notice that in a twist of fate I beat him to choosing this background lay-out). I will quote the blog's own description

    The central idea of this blog is that a public intellectual, in the words of Enlightenment philosopher Marquis de Condorcet, should devote him or herself to “the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them.”
  • The Loom - This is a blog that, unlike the others I've chosen, restricts itself to a single subject: science. Carl Zimmer is one of the best science journalists around and consistently writes about fascinating discoveries and work in the field of science, in addition to authoring books on the subject (I have long had his Soul Made Flesh on my "To Be Read" list.) I find it difficult to conceive that someone could read The Loom on a regular basis and not come away with a greater appreciation for science.
  • James Fallows - I chose this blog for a couple of reasons. First, I'm not sure that many people are aware of it (as I don't notice other bloggers linking all that often, but I could be wrong.) But more importantly, I picked it because it is an example of what high quality political journalism blogging looks like (compare/contrast Fallows with, say, Michelle Malkin.) This is what intelligent commentary is supposed to look like. It is refreshing to read Fallows and remember what sane discourse is.

Mahendra's rules for this award say to choose five blogs, but I am going to cheat and still mention a 6th - Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory - for challenging on a consistent basis the conventional beltway wisdom in defense and memory of our Constitutional liberties and tradition. I am still honored to have been given an opportunity to blog there (in its previous incarnation) last summer and found attempting to live up to the blog's high standard challenged me to elevate my own writing (never as successfully as I would have hoped, I must confess.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hitchens on Jefferson

In Thomas Jefferson: Author of America, Christopher Hitchens takes note that Thomas Jefferson believed that the institution of slavery threatened the future of America because he feared that a just God would take action against the nation. Hitchens references Jefferson's remark from Notes on the State of Virginia that "Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

Hitchens gets in a good dig at Jefferson's belief in an apparently interventionist God.

He proposed that "after they year 1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude." This was a bolder attack on the institution than any he had yet mounted, and on this occasion it was not the objection of southerners, potent as these were, that undid the plan. A New Jersey delegate was taken ill at a critical moment, and the motion was lost. Slightly contradicting himself where divine justice and retribution were concerned, Jefferson wrote: "Thus we see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and heaven was silent in that awful moment." Did he then tremble for his country at the thought that God was neutral?
Sadly, even though this would appear to paint Jefferson as an early champion of the cause of abolition, Hitchens also notes that Jefferson was less than enthused about the slave revolt in Haiti (and feared that were slavery to end in America without slaves being expatriated something similar would happen.) As Hitchens puts it, it's a "reminder that history is a tragedy and not a morality tale."

"More business friendly than CNBC"

If you wanted any more evidence that the conservative movement is made up of people who have a theological worship of The Market, then that quote is it. That's Fox News honcho Roger Ailes on Fox's new business channel. Who in the world but some kind of partisan hack or an ideological zealot watches CNBC and thinks "they are not as friendly to corporations and profits as they should be."

Maybe they're unfriendly in the sense that their reporting is not unconnected to reality and is lacking a blind determination to promote the religion of the The Market.

Science tat's

Carl Zimmer's growing collection of science themed tatoos.

They are geeky.

Unhinged liberal non-grownup Wall Street Journal attacks Michelle Malkin

The WSJ editorial board, well known for its extreme liberal bias, has attacked Michelle Malkin (i.e. pointed out that the Frost family Malkin stalked is the exact sort of family that SCHIP is supposed to help), demonstrating that they are not adults. Unlike Malkin.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Where is the Tragic Legacy review?

Someone e-mailed me asking where the review is. I currently have that post (along with about 10 windows of additional resources) sitting in another browser. It's as long as my other reviews and it's still not in a state that I'm satisfied with. I'm also starting to feel the sort of nervous anxiety that I experienced in the past that made it difficult for me to concentrate (I am no longer taking anti-anxiety medication) so it is taking me longer than I thought it would to finish.

I apologize to anyone who has been checking in expecting it (especially since I promised it last Monday.) I'm doing my best to finish it as soon as I can without driving myself into another bout of panic attacks.

It never ends

New meme circulating the reality is liberally biased blogosphere: a court of law determined Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is full of innaccuracy.

Deltoid debunks (and so does Island of Doubt). Somehow the ideological thinking denialists somehow managed to miss this part of the court's decision.

"Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate."

O'Reilly facetiously denies having psychic abilities

A few days ago, Jimmy Carter said that he was certain the U.S. has been engaging in activies that under international law are defined as torture. Bill O'Reilly responded

Now, I can't read his mind, but I'll admit that President Carter thinks anything other than name, rank, and jihad number qualifies as torture.
What? O'Reilly said he can't read Carter's mind, but then admits that he can. Nevermind that, it's just more absurdity from a man who every day seems to be spiraling further into insanity.

"Name, rank, and jihad number" is the straw-man position that O'Reilly trots out anytime anyone objects to illegal "enhanced interrogation". Does O'Reilly think that until Bush's lawyers attempted to legalize what had previously been illegal that the United States was unable to effectively interrogate prisoners? Or does O'Reilly think that al Qaeda are some kind of superhuman brand of Evil that somehow sets them apart from every other enemy that United States has ever had.

It's a false dichotomy. One could equally suggest that O'Reilly thinks that either we beat prisoners to death (like the ones who died at Bagram) or we never get any intelligence.

I marvel - marvel - at how dumb/ignorant O'Reilly is. What does he think of the people who wrote the Army Field Manual on interrogation? Were they all far leftists who think anything other than "name, rank, and jihad number" is torture? Has the United States been unable to effectively interrogate prisoners all the years that it abided by the Geneva Conventions?

Are these retired military leaders under the impression that anything other than "name, rank, and jihad number" is torture?

The Army Field Manual was the product of decades of experience – experience that had shown, among other things that such interrogation methods produce unreliable results and often impede further intelligence collection. Discounting the Manual’s wisdom on this central point shows a disturbing disregard for the decades of hardwon knowledge of the professional American military.

The United States’ commitment to the Geneva Conventions – the laws of war – flows not only from field experience, but also from the moral principles on which this country was founded, and by which we all continue to be guided. We have learned first hand the value of adhering to the Geneva Conventions and practicing what we preach on the international stage.
But that's just far left foolishness.

Bill O'Reilly devoted the beginning of his show last night to warning Americans about the dangerous radicalism of John Edwards, proclaiming that "John Edwards has no chance to become president because he's simply too far-left for most Americans." After highlighting all the scary, fringe positions Edwards holds, O'Reilly summarized what the Far-Left America would look like once John Edwards got done with it:

[W]ould you support President John Edwards? Remember, no coerced interrogation, civilian lawyers in courts for captured overseas terrorists, no branding the Iranian guards terrorists, and no phone surveillance without a specific warrant.
Who could even fathom an America plagued by habeas corpus, search warrants, and a military that fails to beat, freeze and mock-execute its detainees? And nothing is more sacred to core American values than branding other countries' armies as "Terrorists" ("The [Revolutionary] Guard is the SS of Iran").
Read the rest of Greenwald's post to see that the "Traditional" O'Reilly is really a pseudo-conservative in the sense that he "is a man who, in the name of upholding traditional American values and institutions and defending them against more or less fictitious dangers, consciously or unconsciously aims at their abolition." [source]

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


“The American Right feels as if it is being held hostage by liberal society. This beleaguered mentality goes hand in hand with a world-view that is as demonic as it is dualistic. It is demonic in the sense that it sees the world as overrun by the forces of evil (now called liberalism) and dualistic because it regards its political opponents as the incarnation of cosmic evil.” – Shadia Drury, Leo Strauss and the American Right

Registered Republican (as of yesterday) John Cole ran headfirst into this dualistic worldview yesterday when Michelle Malkin called him a "leftist" because he criticized her for staking out the home of 12 year old child despite him actually being opposed to the expansion of the SCHIP program. It's the same mentality that a Republican caller to the Rush Limbaugh show ran into when he was told that he "can't possibly be a Republican" because he favors withdrawing troops from Iraq.

In the minds of Malkin and company, there is really only one kind of American: Americans who think like them. Everyone else is "the left." When Cole is called a "leftist" what he's really being called is an infidel and/or heretic.

Let's recall what Al Gore wrote in The Assault on Religion

What is most troubling to me is the promotion of hatred as entertainment. Moreover, they [the conservative movement propagandists] have actively conspired to fan the flames of viscious hatred aimed at one group in particular: Americans with progressive political views. They speak of "liberals" with the kind of dripping contempt and virulent hostility that used to be associated with racism and sectarian strife. One of the best known right-wing commentators, Ann Coulter, advised her audience that she was in favor of executing an American citizen who had joined the taliban "in order to physically intimidate liberals by making them realize that they could be killed , too."


The emergence of an ultraconservative, antigovernment dogma that increasingly relies on the encouragement of mass hostility toward nonbelievers is an extremely
troubling new development in America's public forum. As we've seen, it turns James Madison's prophesy on its head: A political faction has degenerated into a quasi-religious sect. It is a sect that sounds as if it believes America is in the early stages of an ideological civil war. It promotes its core beliefs as if they are impervious to reason. And it is is unleashing and encouraging ugly and violent impulses.
Yeah, it thinks it's in a civil war allright. And some of Rush Limbaugh's fans seem to be itching to amp it up a notch

It never matters to you Left wing liberal bastards about the truth, but it appears that the control of the future of this country is at stake and like it or not, we may have to resort to the same tactics as used back in 1860 when this country went to war with itself, North vs South, only this time it's Conservative vs Liberal and I'm ready to join in as soon as the fireworks start.

Just keep up the constant lying and sooner or later it will catch up with you and all those in Move and Media Matters will get what you so richly deserve.
Gee, you think that has anything to do with Rush telling his "Dittoheads" that Al Qaeda are Democrats?

Now take a look at what Mark Steyn had to say about this: "If a political party is desperate enough to send a boy to do a man's job, then the boy is fair game."

Fair game. I can't help but think of Scientology's Fair Game doctrine

The homes, property, places and abodes of persons who have been active in attempting to: suppress Scientology or Scientologists are all beyond any protection of Scientology Ethics, unless absolved by later Ethics or an amnesty ... this Policy Letter extends to suppressive non-Scientology wives and husbands and parents, or other family members or hostile groups or even close friends.
I look at this sort as a possible end road for where the conservative movement could go if it were to metastasize as a full blown political religion. Steyn's "fair game" plan is not a formalized doctrine of personal destruction like Scientology's, but it shares the same root sentiment.

Steyn and Malkin and Coulter like to describe individuals like this family as "human shields" and complain that "liberals" are trying to silence them when normal Americans with a conscience criticize them for attacking people on a personal level. That is because in the dichotomized world view of the authoritarians, holding an unorthodox political position by definition brings your character into question. We see over and over again conservative movement figures attacking an opponent's person in an attempt to discredit him/her as if that somehow proves a political position in and of itself wrong.

A few examples: Coulter attacking the 9/11 widows for advocating an inquiry into the death of their husbands, Sean Hannity slandering Michael Schiavo, the insanity of the conservative movement generating conspiracy after conspiracy about the Clintons murdering people, attacking Glenn Greenwald, the obsession with Gore's energy use,etc.

These folks seem to be nearly incapable of distinguishing between attacking a position and attacking a person. The logic at play here seems to be something like that of the UnderPants Gnomes.

Stage 1: "Liberals" are wrong
Stage 2: ?
Stage 3: "Liberals" are wrong

Like for the Underpants Gnomes, Stage 2 is a magic step (A.L. beat me to this analogy by about a year) which generates the desired outcome. Movement conservative "know" that "liberals" are wrong or liars or hypocrites or whatever the particular scenario calls for, they start with this premise and end with it as a conclusion. The in-between is coming up with the "evidence". But they approach this endeavor like the creationist looking for "evidence" that evolution is false, and explains why being disproven (over and over again) does not lead them to abandon course. They just keep coming up with reckless accusation after reckless accusation. The "evidence" is the ? of Stage 2 - it exists because they will it to exist. As Greenwald put it

These right-wing bloggers operate at a level several beneath the National Enquirer, literally. They simply fabricate facts and recklessly and maliciously launch serious accusations against the media whenever doing so advances their political agenda.

They leap on any innuendo or gossip from the Internet swamps and tout it as fact whenever doing so bolsters their ideological view or can be enlisted to destroy the credibility of a journalist who reports unpleasant facts. They desperately seek out any basis for attacking media reports that cast doubt on their Leader and his policies. They repeat government and military claims as fact and then accuse the media of "lying" whenever their reporting contradicts Official Statements from Our Leaders.

They operate in a credibility-free zone where there are never any consequences for their mistakes because the partisans who read them will always dismiss every one of these unfair smears on the media as well-intentioned (one of the bloggers on Malkin's Hot Air site emphasized last night in defending himself how "well founded and well intended our suspicions were"). That led Malkin herself to add: "Just to clarify, I’m not apologizing for anything."
Why would she? Anyone questioning her is by definition a "leftist." And by definition "leftists" are wrong. Because they're "leftists".

Air tight logic.

Update: "Leftist" John Cole explains the difference to Malkin between journalism and "journalism." Long story short, the purpose of the former is to find out what is true, the purpose of the latter is to find out what you already know. Which is what accounts for the different techniques.

Quote of the day

"That’s right, hate mongers like Media Matters take innocent statements like mine, Rush Limbaugh’s, John Gibson’s, and Bill O’Reilly’s and make them offensive by posting them on the internet, allowing the general public to hear words that were meant for people who already agree with us. Media Matters, you want to end offensive speech? Then stop recording it for people who would be offended." - Stephen Colbert (h/t Crooks and Liars)


Chet Scoville translates

Two months after insisting that they would roll back broad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats in Congress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucial powers given to the National Security Agency....Although willing to oppose the White House on the Iraq war, they remain nervous that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on gathering intelligence.
You know, that last sentence doesn't read correctly. Let's just fix it up a bit:

Although willing to claim to oppose the White House on the Iraq war by means of empty gestures and bullshit, they remain irrationally wedded to the forlorn hope of gaining the approval of David Broder, their Republican opponents, sociopathic talk-radio hosts, and mouth-breathers who would never vote for them in the first place, if they can only manage to make not a single gesture towards the restoration of actual constitutional government in the United States.
Glenn Greenwald has more, and gives cause for cautious optimism.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

You can't make this stuff up

I flipped to Rush Limbaugh this afternoon and a caller was saying that Rush doesn't tell her what to think, he just confirms what she already thinks. Rush concurred, saying that she's totally correct, he doesn't tell his audience (of self-described Dittoheads) what to think, no. He just validates what they already believe. That's the difference between his audience and mindless Democrats.

Michelle Malkin stalks crippled child

Dave Neiwert has the relevant links. Warning: surfing through them is sure to raise your bloodpressure.

Oh, and apparently, if you're opposed to stalking a crippled child using personal information disclosed about that child at Free Republic then you a "leftist." John Cole - the "leftist" - points out again that Michelle Malkin, like the authoritarian she is, has a double standard (and here's the link demonstrating it) when it comes to invading someone's privacy.

Michelle Malkin, incensed by the presence of the children engaging in SCHIP advocacy, has now gone the extra mile:

Update 2:50pm Eastern: I just returned from a visit to Frost’s commercial property near Patterson Park in Baltimore. It’s a modest place. Talked to one of the tenants, Mike Reilly, who is a talented welder. He said he had known the Frosts for 10 years. Business is good, he told me, though he characterized Frost as “struggling.” Reilly was an outspoken advocate for socialized health care without any means-testing whatsoever and an insistent critic of the Iraq war. Despite all that, he did agree with me that going without health insurance is often a matter of choice and a matter of priorities. Or maybe we were speaking two different languages.
I also passed by the Frosts’ rowhouse. There was an “01 – 20 -09″ bumper sticker plastered on the door and a newer model GMC Suburban parked directly in front of the house. I’ve seen guesstimates of the house’s worth in the $400,000 plus range. Those are high.
Citizen journalists, at your doorstep. Maybe she can get some of her flunkies at Hot Air to sit with binoculars and see what they have for dinner. Better not be government cheese, or the SHIT is going to hit the fan.

The Malkin wing of the current Republican party makes me fucking sick.

*** Update ***

An update from the truth detector:

A word for all the faux outraged leftists accusing conservative bloggers of waging a “smear campaign:” Asking questions and subjecting political anecdotes to scrutiny are what journalists should be doing.

When a family and Democrat political leaders drag a child down to Washington at 6 in the morning to read a script written by Senate Democrat staffers on a crusade to overturn a presidential veto, someone might have questions about the family’s claims. The newspapers don’t want to do their jobs. The vacuum is being filled.
Yes- the national void of “NOT HAVING WINGNUTS EYEBALL YOUR HOME AND DETERMINE IF YOU SHOULD RECEIVE GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE” has now been filled. Thank you for fulfilling that vital role in our national discourse.


You know what grates at me- didn’t she, for one minute, think- “Gee- this is kind of creepy and like that lunatic Mike Stark who stalked O”Reilly. Maybe I should call the Frosts and try to arrange an interview, rather than do drive-bys of their house using information dug up by Freepers?”

Because that is what a normal, sane person would have done. I think I answered my own question.

*** Update #2 ***

Before the site is overun with Malkinites offering pithy rejoinders such as calling us socialists and libtards, let me point out my shock is not a defense of the SCHIP program, as personally, I oppose this incremental expansion. I am tired of incremental growth of government. I feel the same way about this that I felt about the hideous Prescription Drug Plan- it is going to end up costing MUCH, MUCH more than advertised. Most of my readers and commenters would probably disagree with me, but I don’t like the program, despite its allegedly noble purpose. I would prefer a radical overhaul of the medical system rather than this incrementalism.

Regardless, this is not about the SCHIP program. This is about the base instincts of the modern right, and the attempts to intimidate and smear and label it as “investigating.” I don’t have a problem with opposing SCHIP, I don’t have a problem with opposing legislation by anecdote (which is why I, unlike Michelle, hated the Schiavo legislation). I do have a problem with publishing a desperate family’s financial information, scouring pictures of their kitchen to determine the value of their appliances, and stalking their abode. Even if they were used at a press conference by Democrats.

What Michelle has done here is creepy and weird and wrong.
Understatement, I would say. Actually, the behavior of what Neiwert calls the "assholeosphere" is ritual defamation.

Defamation is the destruction or attempted destruction of the reputation, status, character or standing in the community of a person or group of persons by unfair, wrongful, or malicious speech or publication. For the purposes of this essay, the central element is defamation in retaliation for the real or imagined attitudes, opinions or beliefs of the victim, with the intention of silencing or neutralizing his or her influence, and/or making an example of them so as to discourage similar independence and "insensitivity" or non-observance of taboos. It is different in nature and degree from simple criticism or disagreement in that it is aggressive, organized and skillfully applied, often by an organization or representative of a special interest group, and in that it consists of several characteristic elements.
This is inherently anti-democratic. The author concludes

The power of ritual defamation lies entirely in its capacity to intimidate and terrorize. It embraces some elements of primitive superstitious belief, as in a "curse" or "hex." It plays into the subconscious fear most people have of being abandoned or rejected by the tribe or by society and being cut off from social and psychological support systems.

The weakness of ritual defamation lies in its tendency toward overkill and in its obvious maliciousness. Occasionally a ritual defamation will fail because of poor planning and failure to correctly judge the vulnerability of the victim or because its viciousness inadvertently generates sympathy.

It’s important to recognize and identify the patterns of a ritual defamation. Like all propaganda and disinformation campaigns it is accomplished primarily through the manipulation of words and symbols. It is not used to persuade, but to punish. Although it may have cognitive elements, its thrust is primarily emotional. Ritual Defamation is used to hurt, to intimidate, to destroy, and to persecute, and to avoid the dialogue, debate and discussion upon which a free society depends. On those grounds it must be opposed no matter who tries to justify its use.
Update: Cole has more explaining that the family that has been the victim of this coordinated assault (Malkin calls it journalism) is in reality the picture of what Republican values are supposed to be. Yet for the grave sin of speaking in support of the S-CHIP bill they had to be smeared and villified. I expect that an exodus from the Republican Party is going to occur as people with a conscience refuse to associate themselves with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, and Ann Coulter.

I simply can not believe this is what the Republican party has become. I just can’t. It just makes me sick to think all those years of supporting this party, and this is what it has become. Even if you don’t like the S-Chip expansion, it is hard to deny what Republicans are- a bunch of bitter, nasty, petty, snarling, sneering, vicious thugs, peering through people’s windows so they can make fun of their misfortune.

I’m registering Independent tomorrow.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Alan, don't hate me. Please

I am going to take one more day with my Tragic Legacy post. I have had a high ambition for it and am still not satisfied with the end product (and then there's the additional agony that comes from dealing with the transcription errors that occur when transferring the draft to Blogger).

I suck. I know. You can probably see why I turned in virtually ever paper that I wrote during my educational career late.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gary Wills on church/state separation

Pulitzer Prize winning historian Gary Wills has a new book coming out about the history of Christianity in America and how church/state separation protects religion in the U.S. NPR features a 25 minute interview and an excerpt from Head and Heart: American Christianities (h/t Crooks and Liars)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

80s Video of the Day

"Out of Touch" by Hall and Oates

Friday, October 05, 2007

Dog whistle nativism

As I was sitting here yesterday staring in disbelief at Tom Tancredo's odd statement that global warming (if true) means we should reduce immigration (and that the Sierra Club should be advocating that) I started to suspect that he was making some kind of dog whistle reference that nativists are familiar with.

The notion that immigrants increase national pollution reminded me of the nativist belief that immigrants are bringing disease to America. Both beliefs fit well into the xenophobic/proto-fascist view of immigrants/foreigners/an internal enemy as an infection in the body politic, so I did a Google search and turned up this Carrying Capacity Network article about immigration increasing pollution which seems to be an attempt to dress up nativist racism in pseduo-academic garb.

I went to the CCN homepage and noticed (among the other bits of xenophobic hysteria) an article about a possible "epidemic" resulting from immigration. This kind of stuff is standard in anti-immigrant racist propaganda.

Then I found that a few years ago a group with alleged ties to white supremacist groups had tried to take over the Sierra Club in order to make reducing immigration one of it goals.

The leadership of the Sierra Club, the landmark environmental organization, is enmeshed in a bitter struggle over whether to advocate tough immigration restrictions as a way to control environmental damage that has been associated with rapid population growth.

The debate is unusual in its intensity, even for an organization whose fractious disputes are legendary. It focuses on efforts by several outsiders and grass-roots members of the club to win seats on the board of directors. The dissident group is led by Richard D. Lamm, the former Democratic governor of Colorado, who has argued for 20 years that national policies leave the country open to unsustainable immigration.

At stake is the leadership of an organization of 750,000 members that has a 112-year history of pushing conservation and pollution issues into the national consciousness and federal law.

For weeks, both camps have issued charges and countercharges and the dissidents have filed two lawsuits, neither of which is active.

For starters, the executive director of the club, Carl Pope, said that Mr. Lamm's supporters were ''in bed with racists.'' An internal group supporting the mainstream candidates further contends that Mr. Lamm and his fellow candidates are unwitting blocking backs for a stealthy network of nativist groups that wants to take control of the organization, which was founded by a Scottish immigrant, John Muir.
Looking further, one finds that the "immigration brings pollution" meme and the push to infiltrate the Sierra Club does have ties to white supremacists. Specifically, John Tanton.

Anti-immigration activists have pondered trying to take over the well-known environmental group, the Sierra Club, going back at least to the mid-1980s. The basic idea, suggested in a once-secret 1986 memo by anti-immigration leader John Tanton, was to seize the reins of a respected and well-financed liberal group to express immigration restriction arguments that might otherwise draw accusations of racism.

Led by a group then called Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization (it is now known only by its acronym, SUSPS), anti-immigration activists including current Club director Ben Zuckerman made their first attempt in 1998. Their proposed resolution failed in a bitterly fought 60%-40% vote of the Sierra Club's membership.

Last fall, as predicted earlier in these pages, it became clear that a second major attempt, led again by Zuckerman and his allies, had begun. SUSPS and other anti-immigration groups and individuals are now pushing to elect a board majority that agrees with them.
Then there's this bit which ties this (Tancredo, the Carrying Capacity Network, and the push to make anti-immigration a plank of the Sierra Club) together.

IR: What is SUSPS' strategy in the current election?

COX: One of their strategies has been to run high-profile candidates. This year, they are backing former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, who in recent years has been working very closely with anti-immigration groups and U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo [R-Colo.], who chairs the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus and is one of the most vocal anti-immigration leaders in Congress.

Their second candidate is Frank Morris, a former head of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, who is making his second attempt backed by SUSPS. Morris has become very involved in the same anti-immigration groups that Zuckerman is involved in. Morris sits on the board of the Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America, as does Lamm, and that's the organization that Zuckerman is a past director of.

The third well-known SUSPS candidate, David Pimentel, is on the advisory board of the same group.

It goes further. Dick Lamm is also the chairman of the board of advisors for the large anti-immigration group the Federation for American Immigration Reform [or FAIR, a group originally started by John Tanton].

Morris is on the board of another anti-immigration group, the Center for Immigration Studies [also founded by Tanton] and, along with Zuckerman, is on the Californians for Population Stabilization board. Lamm is on that group's advisory board.

Finally, the Carrying Capacity Network, another anti-immigration group, has David Pimentel on its board. Doug LaFollette and Frank Morris sit on its advisory board. So we're seeing something of an interlocking set of directors with all these anti-immigration groups.
The significance of the Tancredo comment is that it is an example of the process of transmission. As Dave Neiwert puts it

The far right has become extremely adept at cloaking itself in recent years. It's become very adept at fronting "conservative" organizations that are adept at echoing their own agendas. You can, however, see the far right's influence in the end result of these groups' positions. As with other "transmissions" where extremist beliefs are advocated in the mainstream, the underlying origins of the organizations, or their funding sources, or their open associations with extremists, or any combination of these, reveals the core agendas at work.

After awhile, it becomes clear enough what is happening with a large number of the anti-immigrant groups. White supremacists have been going to great pains to camouflage their activities since the early 1990s, and this is one of the important ways they do it. In the meantime, you have guys like Michael Savage and Jared Taylor getting on the airwaves and reminding everyone what degraded, nasty citizens those brown people are.
Neiwert mentions funding. Since the conservative movement loves to hate George Soros so much, I'm tempted to point out that the groups attempting to subvert Sierra Club have financial ties to a well known wealthy scion of the conservative movement. But to do so would be rather petty, so I won't say that it's Richard Mellon Scaife.*

It's also a bit ironic to see that VDare - the anti-immigration site which runs Michelle Malkin's column - helped recruit members to join the Sierra Club and support the SUSPS - a group which has formed an alliance with eco-terrorist Paul Watson who is also trying to subvert the organization for ideological reasons - given that Malkin likes to stereotype environmentalists as being or supporting eco-terrorists.

*I will, however, give a clue. It's R_____d M____n S____ e. Get the joke?(Updated 8-7-07)

And the award for Biggest Asshole on the Planet goes to ...

... self-described social Darwinist Neal Boortz for again saying (see here for the previous incident) that in the case of a crisis like Katrina rich people deserve to live more than poor people do because the poor are "parasites and leeches."

He's even made a game of it.

In addition to the "save the rich" comment, Boortz demonstrated his moronity by stating that what happened at Abu Ghraib was not torture. No. It's just that the "left-wing" has redefined torture to be anything other than questioning.

He's right. The left-wing Communist Major General Antonio Taguba found when he investigated Abu Graib "that between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility (BCCF), numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees" including credible reports of "sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick."

And the Marxists/Leninists who conduct army autopsies have found that some prisoners have been "interrogated" to death.

But who are we kidding? Even if torture was going on Boortz wouldn't care. After all, " if we're torturing enemy combatants ... who cares? We can do whatever we want to them, because we're allowed."

The left-wing Communists in the army leadership care, Boortz. They care because torturing prisoners is going to increase anti-American sentiment in the Iraqi population which is going to lead to more dead people you miserable excuse for a person.

Nevermind the "bedwetter" notion that torturing people is wrong.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


I was looking at the New York Times Election Guide 2008 on the stances taken by the candidates on global warming and - I suppose by now I should know better but - I was in amazement to see Tom Tancredo turn global warming into an opportunity to push his anti-immigration (or nativist, if you prefer) views.

"I have no doubt that global warming exists. I just question the cause and what we can do to ameliorate it. But I wonder why the Sierra Club isn't going crazy about the environmental aspects of massive immigration into the U.S. The fact is, Americans consume more energy than anyone else, so if a person moves here from another country, they automatically become bigger polluters." - Time, May 31, 2007

Are you kidding me?

If your eyes happen to wander about a centimeter below you'll see that Tancredo does in fact have doubts that global warming exists. Or at least he did a couple of weeks before the above comment was made.

"First of all, the whole issue of global warming, for every single scientist that tells you it's happening and that it's our fault -- and they'll stack up to here in this reports -- I can stack up another group of reports that say just the opposite. I don't believe that -- well, I'll tell you this, I don't know whether or not we are responsible, we the human race, are responsible for global warming. It certainly could be happening, it certainly could be a natural phenomenon." -Republican debate, May 15, 2007

Joke of the day

"In politics, you can never turn the other cheek. Especially when you're fighting the Christian right." - Al Franken, The Truth (with jokes)

Next week

Ok, I'm 100 percent sure that I will be posting the review of Tragic Legacy on Monday (unless I'm somehow involved in a catastrophe of some sort.)

Besides procrastination and my book binge, a reason that I've taken so long to get to it is I've been working on multiple posts (a product of nervous energy.) One such post that I hope to publish mid next week is on the subject of Regnery's P.I.G. reality revision series.

Which is why I was pleased to see this post at The Vanity Press from Chet Scoville (a professor of Middle Ages literature at the University of Toronto) responding to the conservative movement's attack on the academy which includes a link to his response to the P.I.G. book on literature. The particular post is about Phillis Schlafly presenting herself as a rescuer of English literature from the forces of "liberal" political correctness when in reality this is a classic case of the projection strategy. Scoville explains:

I trust I don't have to explain Schlafly's real agenda, but just in case: what she wants is to preserve, not classic literature per se, but classic literature as a vehicle for her own political agenda, which is to maintain the privilege of whiteness and maleness. She is guilty, in other words, of exactly the crime of which she accuses others: placing politics above all else.
My response in the comments will inform the post I'm going to write, so I'm going reprint them below with slight modifications.

Great timing. I'm working on a post on this subject that will likely go up mid next week. If you want an idea of where it's going it's an outgrowth of this comment that I left at Island of Doubt:

I framed my post on the assault on Hansen in terms of the following quote:

"Anti-intellectualism has long been the anti-Semitism of the businessman." - Arthur Schlesinger

To me, what I find disturbing about the attack on Hansen and the larger conservative movement attack on so-called "liberal" science (Regnery's Politically Incorrect Guide series comes to mind) is the parallels with other ideologically motivated attacks on science that we've witnessed from authoritarian regimes. I'm specifically thinking of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union where they viewed Mendelian genetics as "fascist" science, and Nazi Germany where they viewed theoretical physics as "Jewish" science.
I consider Regnery's P.I.G. line of reality revision books to be tools of nascent totalitarianism in the sense that they are part of what Hannah Arendt identified as the process of nihilistic relativism. I'm not sure it's coincidence, either, that Henry Regnery was publishing antisemitic WWII revisionist material in the '50s.

The Kantor book is particularly frustrating, given that Shakespeare has been turned into a movement conservative. In fact, all great literature (ever) has been written by "dead white males" who were allegedly movement conservatives. Even the great females of literature were rep's of the movement, e.g. Jane Austen, who incidentally is who liberal humanist philosopher A.C. Grayling considers to be the author of the greatest book in English history.

Applying Kantor's standards, I could easily turn Shakespeare into a spokesman for PETA (I've got a quote from one of his plays where a character speaks out against experimenting on animals.) But the proper point of reading literature, especially great literature, is not to turn it into a vehicle to advance your partisan (extremist, exclusionary) political agenda, but to enrich your mind.

A.C. Grayling puts it best (or the best that I know of):

It remains that the largest and richest store of reflection on all questions of importance about the good life for humankind is literature - the novels, poems, plays, and essays that distil and debate the experience of mankind in its richest variety. It does not matter whether a literature work is tendentious or not, that is, urges a point of view or enjoins a way of life; from that point of view literature is a Babel of competing opinions and outlooks. For the earnest enquirer that is a good thing, because the more viewpoints, perspectives and experiences that come as grist to his mill through the medium of literature, the more chance he has of expanding his understanding, refining his sympathies, and considering his options. That is the great service of attentive and thoughtful reading: it educates and extends the moral imagination, affording insight into - and therefore the chance to be more tolerant of - other lives, other ways, other choices, most of which one will probably never directly experience oneself. And tolerance is a virtue which no list of virtues could well be without, and without which no human existence could be complete or good.
Grayling's sentiment is the antithesis of what Kantor and Schafly are about.

The title of my post is going to be "Anti-semitism as anti-intellectualism in Nazi Germany" which is intended to be somewhat provacative.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Book watch

For 2 bucks I got two hardcovers from my local library: Tom Paine, the Greatest Exile by David Powell and America at 1750 by Richard Hofstadter. These have duly been added to my growing pile of "To Be Read" books.

I was browsing Barnes and Noble today, and because I had been primed by reading this post at Orcinus about Dave Neiwert getting a regular Monday gig at Rick Perlstein's blog The Big Con, I noticed Jonathan Chait's recently released and similarly titled (that would be 'almost exactly similarly titled') book The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked from by Crackpot Economics. The author argues that over the course of the last 30 years economic extremists have managed to transform (with the help of a lax media) what was formerly considered crazy fiscal policy into near conventional wisdom in Washington.

The book's first chapter is available here at the New York Times. Given that the book's premise compliments a theme that I've been trying to develop for an eventual essay, this is now on my "To Be Read" list (to be distinguished from my "To Be Read" pile.)

Finally, in the Oct/Nov 07 edition of Free Inquiry, there are two reviews that you might find of interest. One is Ed Doerr giving an extremely positive review of The Assault on Reason by Al Gore and the other is Jennifer Michael Hecht - author of The Daily Doubter 2005 Book of the Year - reviewing God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everthing by Christopher Hitchens.

While Hecht enjoyed much of the book, she found other sections extremely frustrating because Hitchens has a tendency to dilute his argument by playing loose with the facts and his knowledge of religious history is somewhat shaky in spots. For example, she points out that Hitchens attempts to turn Albert Einstein into an atheist, despite his actual religious views being more properly understood as a kind pantheism. Also, Hitchens seems to bash religious figures like Ghandi and MLK for the sake of bashing religious figures, according to Hecht. If my brief summary of Hecht's review is off slightly, it's due to me having only skimmed/speed read the article shamefully in the bookstore.

Quote of the day

"Conservative. n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others." - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

Strange Tales from a Strange Land

I was thinking that I was going to re-title Pt. Four of "Neal Boortz is a Moron" because I started to feel a bit guilty for being insulting. That I should concentrate on the facts and leave the name-calling behind. That was before I listened to Neal Boortz today and remembered that he is, in fact, a moron.

Today's moronity (new word, if it catches on I want credit for it like Colbert gets credit for truthiness) consisted of Boortz saying that "Media Myrmidons" (an insult[?] that Boortz apparently picked up from David Horowitz) is run by Hillary Clinton's people. According to Boortz, Media Matters was created by Clinton and is loyal to her.

Um, no. It wasn't. It was created by ex-Clinton noise machine hitman David Brock because he had a crisis of conscience and decided to dedicate himself to monitoring the conservative movement propaganda that he had formely been a part of.

But in the Strange Land that is the world of the paranoid pseudo-conservative (or in this case, pseudo-libertarian) all roads lead to the Clintons and George Soros.

Additional Boortz moronity is this passage from today's Neal's Nuze

Ann Coulter has a new book. "If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd be Republicans." Suggested subtitle ... "You Can't Fix Stupid."

I guess we now know just what sentence, paragraph or thought expressed in Coulter's book is going to be used by the MoveOn Democrat Party and the loony left in an attempt to demonize her.

Here's an excerpt from an interview with Ann Coulter by George Gurley. Here we find Coulter talking about women:

"If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women."
The left is sure to jump on this like a crow on a June bug. Thing is .... Coulter is exactly right. Don't take her word for it, just read "Freedomnomics" by John Lott. Here we have a renowned economist going all the way back to the late 1980s to see what happens when women get the vote. His findings? In every single case, when women were given the right to vote the cost of government immediately began to rise as women, particularly single women, started voting for the candidates who would create more government spending programs designed to provide women with security. That magic word .. .security.

Lott found that young single women overwhelmingly vote liberal. When they marry and start a family they start voting more conservatively. That would be because their sense of security is provided by their family, and they don't want government to interfere in their accumulation of wealth. Then, if that very same woman starts to feel that her marriage is threatened ... or if she becomes divorced ... she right back there voting for liberals again. Why? Security .. this time from the government instead of her husband.

Coulter is right. Deal with it.
Coulter is right? She's right to want to disenfranchise women because she doesn't like how they vote? Boortz is too dumb to realize the issue is not whether or not women vote for Democrats but whether or not that their franchise should depend on it. Anyone who calls themselves a libertarian (as Boortz does) should be mortified by the ramblings of Coulter.

You know, I think that it's true that the religious right tend to vote for people who are willing to roll-back civil liberty and erode church/state seperation, but I have no desire to take away their right to vote. I would protest such a measure tooth and nail.

Update: The Media Matters page at Sourcewatch quotes this New York Times article which states that

Mr. Brock's project was developed with help from the newly formed Center for American Progress, the policy group headed by John D. Podesta, the former Clinton chief of staff.
Given that Boortz (and the rest of the conservative movement blogosphere, from what I can tell) believes that Hillary Clinton secretly ochestrates the Center for American Progress because it is headed by Podesta, I'm guessing this is why Boortz believes that Media Matters is run by Hillary Clinton.