Help Me, Jeebus!

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In the wake of The New Republic's cover story on the electoral problems posed by Howard Dean's secularism, the candidate has announced his intention to begin spreading the gospel… in the South. This strikes me as bizarre. It'd be one thing to have just done it. But it seems potentially counterproductive for someone who's already on record as saying he doesn't go to church much and doesn't let his religion influence his politics to, in essence, announce that he's made a strategic decision to pull out the God-talk for the rubes below the Mason-Dixon (while, presumably, abstaining up North). If his secularism is offputting to religious voters, isn't this kind of calculated, condescending pandering likely to be even more so?

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  1. There’s your candidate, buddy!!

  2. Err, yeah, I suppose I may as well say it here: I was wrong about that. Wishful thinking, I guess.

  3. Jesuholics don’t care about actual belief, just line-towing.

    It won’t matter either way, though. He’s a democrat, which means he kills babies and wants to outlaw cars.

    Sort of like a republican trying to appear secular to a bunch of secular democrats. He’d still hate black people and the environment.

    I find myself smirking more than I’d like.

  4. If this story is as bad for Dean as it appears, I’m wondering who can go up against Bush as anything other than Bush-Lite. Bush has triangulated/ strangled all the others.

    I’m a former Southerner so I’m convinced Dean lecturing Southerners about Jesus will be his kiss of death throughout the nation.
    He would have been more successful in the South taking a bold stand as an agnostic.

    Maybe Bush will be like Gray Davis. The war on terrorism will backfire big time which will be obvious to most around November of 2004.

  5. Julian,
    Perhaps this is part of his strategy to appeal to guys with confederate flags in their pickups.
    There is something kind of different, sort of a political naivet?, about the way he telegraphs his tactics. Anyway, you’re still right about Bush. So, now who?

  6. Is it still calculating if it’s genuinely and sincerely calculating?

    The actual interview in the Boston Globe is a lot more disarming than this Fox news article would have one believe.

  7. A few things.

    First, Dean left his church over a bike path? I mean, a bike path? I know that a lot of people here don’t think too highly of religion anyway, but even most people who left a religion say “I used to believe, but then things changed and I stopped believing” or something like that. Sort of implicit is that they underwent some sort of significant change, or else they had some sort of significant dispute (e.g. people leaving the Catholic Church because they don’t want a clergy that resembles Our Lady of the Neverland Ranch). But a bike path?

    Can’t he at least pretend that it was more significant? All he has to say is “I’m just not a spiritual person” or “I simply didn’t share their beliefs” or even “I prefer private spirituality to organized religion.” Something.

    Cuz, from where I’m sitting, if he’s willing to leave a church over a bike path, how do we know he won’t walk out on a major trade summit or something over the dinner menu? Or maybe he’ll stop nominating judges because a Senator stole his parking spot.

    Second, if he wants to campaign in the South and make himself seem more religious, he should simply appear at churches in the way Democrats always go to black churches. Just do it, don’t telegraph it. His current approach, however, sounds about as shallow and craven as it would be if Bush said “I’m imposing this steel tarriff because Pennsylvania is a swing state with 20+ electoral votes.” At least Bush had the decency to pretend that it would do some good for the American economy.

    Finally, for the Bush/Davis analogy. Let’s amend the Constitution to allow Presidential recalls. (This is a joke, I do realize the various problems we might encounter with Presidential recalls.) This spring the Democrats can nominate some candidate with zero chance of winning (e.g. Dean), then Bush wins in November. But in summer of 2005 a wealthy Democratic Congressman can finance a recall petition, and in fall of 2005 a Democratic actor can be elected in a race that includes Gary Coleman, Larry Flynt, etc.

  8. “Finally, for the Bush/Davis analogy. Let’s amend the Constitution to allow Presidential recalls. (This is a joke, I do realize the various problems we might encounter with Presidential recalls.) This spring the Democrats can nominate some candidate with zero chance of winning (e.g. Dean), then Bush wins in November. But in summer of 2005 a wealthy Democratic Congressman can finance a recall petition, and in fall of 2005 a Democratic actor can be elected in a race that includes Gary Coleman, Larry Flynt, etc.”

    You’re joking thoreau, but truth is stranger than fiction. I can see the Terminator leading the Presidential recall and concurrently amending the Constitution to allow him, Austrian born, to be Prez.

  9. You have to consider the possibility that this is a “bank shot pander,” like Bush2000 used to do with African Americans and Hispanics. The didn’t dig up black Republic sewer commissioners and sit them on the stage to appeal to black people, who saw right through the shtick and were not impressed. Rather, the rounded up minority faces for the cameras in order to appeal to centrist white suburbanites, and reassure them that Bush wasn’t a racist right wing conservative. You see, there was this cohort that was closer to Bush on a lot of issues, but was turned off by the GOP’s reputation as culture warriors.

    Similarly, Dean’s “appeal to religious voters” might not be designed to get southern evangelicals to vote for him, but to get some shots of him with Jesus freak southerners, so that midwestern and northern moderates won’t be afraid of that he’s a radical atheist.

  10. You’re way off track, joe.
    Even in the South, most voters gather in the shade OUTSIDE the churches, waitin’ for the wimminfolk to finish up. Nobody nowhere is afeared of a “radical atheist.”
    There are a number of “the Emporor has no clothes” moments that could win votes if candidates could think outside the box and had balls.
    An atheist, anarchistic, drug legalizer with balls could win easily if “conditions” were ripe.
    Paging Billary!

  11. Ruthless,

    “An atheist, anarchistic, drug legalizer with balls could win easily if “conditions” were ripe.”

    Quite simply, no. “Balls” may win the respect of people that don’t agree with you, but they won’t deliver votes. Doubt this? Well, who here would vote for a tells-it-like-it-is authoritarian communist? If a candidate is against your core values, you don’t vote for them, even if it means voting for a scum bag whose policies you agree with.

  12. First, Dean left his church over a bike path? I mean, a bike path? I know that a lot of people here don’t think too highly of religion anyway, but even most people who left a religion say “I used to believe, but then things changed and I stopped believing” or something like that.

    Actually, switching churches over what might appear to be a mionor dispute is a very American thing to do. Specifically, you meet a lot of people who say, “Yeah, I grew up a Methodist, but then I started going to church X because I liked the people at the new place/got offended by a sermon/had a tif with the pastor.” It’s particularly rampant in regions where there are a lot of different denominations crammed into the same space.

    Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone who’s ever said, “I used to be Lutheran, but I switched to a Presbyterian church because of their Eucharistic theology.”

  13. Maybe the devil made him do it.

  14. Matt XIV,
    By the time Nov. 2004 rolls around, voters will be desperate for anyone who can steer the ship of state.
    Atheist, anarchist, drug legalizers with balls can still steer? (Anarchists might have no inclination to, but they still could.)
    Didn’t you contradict yourself toward the end there?

  15. Constantine,
    You make a good point, yet “bike path” will be a heavy cross to bear.
    Especially in the South where he’s liable to be run over by a monster truck festooned with confederate flags while bearing it.

  16. If his secularism is offputting to religious voters, isn’t this kind of calculated, condescending pandering likely to be even more so?

    I think you’re giving too much credit to religious folks. For one, this whole religious-tactic is only being discussed within the blogsphere – it hasn’t made it’s way into the mainstream yet. Hell, I doubt most Southern churchgoers evey know who Dean is…

    Consider the demographic Dean’s trying to target: White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for it’s smarts.

    On the lower end of this group’s income spectrum you’ve actually got people who vote Republican when it runs counter to everything they actually need (welfare, aid, education) from an elected official.

    This was Dean’s whole point with the confederate flag comment – that he wants to reach out and grab a group who vote with their bibles and not their brains… based upon just a few issues. If he can sway them it will be a windfall.

    It’s the exact opposite of what the GOP is trying to do with religious black voters (who traditionally vote Dem.) Hence the faith based initivie – replacing public welfare with church based welfare. It’s genius.

  17. Ruthless,

    If things go apocalypically badly, then, as you suggest, the incumbent may lose to a candidate who has radical views. However, the probability of things getting that bad is relatively low. What we’ve put up with for the last 3 years is awful, but it hasn’t had a large and direct negative impact on the life of the average voter. The sort of conditions necessary for people to vote for a candidate who holds views that appear to be self-evidently wrong for most voters would be things like daily terrorist attacks on US soil, >20% unemployment, or universal prior restraint on political publications. Essentially, things need to get so badly that people would begin to second-guess their own political judgement – that’s no small precondition. Even when things go poorly, most people will still convince themselves that your theoretical candidate would make it worse; so unless people begin to doubt their own abilities to make political decisions, the candidate you describe couldn’t possibly win.

  18. Nobody nowhere is afeared of a “radical atheist.”

    Riiiiiight. I believe national polls of likely voters over the past several years show “An atheist” placing somewhere below “Satan” and “Hitler” in “People for whom I would vote.” Voters like their candidates to have some religious conviction, no matter how shallow (in fact, the shallower the better) because atheists are perceived as amoral at best and immoral at worst.

  19. Constantine-

    OK, people might switch denominations for relatively trivial reasons, but if he wants to go and start portraying himself as a religious man in a region where born-agains are common, he needs a good fall and redemption story. This bike path needs to be jazzed up a little.

    I suggest the following (abbreviated form):

    “For so many years I let the trivial things of this world come between me and the fellowship of Christians. We had an argument in my town about some little local matters, and arguing with my fellow parishioners distracted me from the Lord’s Word. I abandoned Christian fellowship for the trivial things of this world. But now I [insert some experience more heart-warming than the realization that he needs Southern electoral votes] and I’m back praising the Lord!”

  20. I liked the Simpsons reference.

  21. I’m an atheist, and even *I’D* be nervous voting for an atheist.

    Pandering is one think. Outright pranks are another. Leaving a church over a dispute over a bike path – no matter how ordinary to workaday types like us – is a kiss of death for a politician. It simply indicates that the candidate has no judgment.

    Presumably, an Episcopalian is an Episcopalian for a reason. Also, presumably, bike paths have little to do with it. It’s like deciding you’re no longer a Republican because you’re bothered by Trent Lott’s hair. Independently, the two things make complete sense to us. Together, they spell psychosis.

    Howard Dean’s following – consisting, from what I can tell, of radical conspiracy theorists who should be institutionalized today – would suggest that his genius for appealing to the base will NOT translate to the general election.

    So what we’re faced with is having the semiliterate mercantilist wipe the floor with the formerly secular former centrist.

    The whole tale is sad, though I can’t tell which bit is sadder.

  22. I would probably not vote for an atheist who made a point of mentioning it. Just as I’d avoid voting for a Catholic (I’m Catholic myself) who made a point of mentioning it, or any other denomination for that matter. If somebody feels that his faith or lack thereof is a campaign issue then clearly he doesn’t understand the difference between politics and personal matters.

    So what we’re faced with is having the semiliterate mercantilist wipe the floor with the formerly secular former centrist.

    An apt description!

  23. Slippery Pete-

    I just love media bias theories. Don’t get me wrong, there may be some amount of bias, but I love the way that ANYTHING can be spun as bias. Anti-Dean articles? They’re trying to get somebody more electable nominated. (And who among the Dems actually stands a chance?) Pro-Dean articles? They’re obviously so far to the left they’re out of touch.

    And after the primaries, if Dean is the nominee, any article that isn’t blatantly pro-Dean will simply be “proof” that it’s really the corporate media, not the liberal media. And any article that isn’t blatantly pro-Bush will simply be “proof” that the media is liberal.

    Don’t get me wrong, bias may be real, but it deserves GOOD evidence, not a case-by-case interpretations of articles that always happen to confirm the bias.

  24. Will, some thoughts on your comments of 9:55 pm:
    “Consider the demographic Dean’s trying to target: White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for it’s smarts.”

    Is that because they are religious or because they are conservative? Or is it because they are white Southerners? I fail to see your logic here. Having lived in Texas for six years after growing up overseas, I have encountered many intelligent, reasonable, religious conservatives in the South. Why should these “ignorant Southerners” vote for a liberal, non-religious Northerner when he (and his supporters) look upon them with such open contempt? What reason have they to think that Dean will take their concerns seriously?

    And regarding another of your comments:
    “On the lower end of this group’s income spectrum you’ve actually got people who vote Republican when it runs counter to everything they actually need (welfare, aid, education) from an elected official.”

    Well, that’s assuming that you know better than they do what their own interests are. Perhaps they vote Republican because they see government’s role as protecting individual rights, and consider that the government interferes too much in private life. Perhaps they vote Republican because they think that personal responsibility and hard work are more beneficial to them than welfare. Perhaps they vote Republican because they don’t like the ideology that is taught in public schools with their tax dollars. Perhaps they vote Republican because the party generally believes in less government involvement in private life, because they don’t support gay marriage or abortion, and they don’t like those and other such opinions being shoved down their throats.

    One of the fundamental tenets of modern Democrats, liberals, progressives, what-have-you, is the assumption that only a moron or a closed-minded bigot would come to different conclusions than are currently held by left-leaning intelligentsia. People who lean to the left consider themselves the only people capable of using reason to come to a viewpoint that will help the world; all others are stupid, trapped in a “false consciousness” that works against their own “best interest”, or worse, they are right-wing fanatics and are actively trying to destroy anything that draws attention to that. Yet those the left condemns out of hand for having “the wrong beliefs” do not dismiss their opponants so casually – they do left-leaners (or “centrists” as some misleadingly call them) the honor of assuming that they have reasons for their beliefs, and are often willing to sit down and discuss ways to compromise, to reach results that both sides can agree with.

    Instead, those on the left (with great intellectual arrogance and self-righteousness) ignore the diverse opinions, beliefs, and experiences of the common masses and continue to believe in their own moral superiority. The work to correct the “misguided notions” of “idiot conservatives” by governmental force (legislation and judicial activism).

    How is that in keeping with our founding principles?

    And p.s.: The current prejudice against Shrub seems to be based more on his strong Texan accent and his heritage than on any ideological basis. (He was virilantly hated and relentlessly pilloried for these things starting at least two years *before* Sept. 11, the war in Afghanistan, and the recent war in Iraq.) It is arrogant contempt of the same sort that thinks Southerners vote with their Bibles and not with their brains.

  25. The media is focussing on Dean gaffes, mostly because he is the presumed front-runner for the Dem candidacy. Kerry has accumulated a rich history of flip-flops (on a war he voted for!). Same with Clark, and in less time, but who cares?

    Another thing about Dean, Clark Kerry et al– they’re rubes at this, and it shows. Gephart and Lieberman have previous experience in runnig for natioanl office, and it shows. They don’t make mistakes.

    Yet another thing– Gephart and Lieberman are important players in Washington’s leadership culture, The others aren’t. Face it, Bush IS going to be re-elected: G and L don’t run against Bush by demonising the guy, routinely characterising him as a liar controlled by sinister interests and deluded ideologues, or describing his major policy decisions (which ARE America’s policies, approved by a fairly broad bi-partisan consensus) as a national calamity. At the end of the day, they are going to have to live with him.

    If it weren’t for the war, it is hard to believe H&R would be spending this much time handi-capping the Dem primaries. Most probably, come Dec 1 2004, salon.com is going to start spending the next four years debating Gore or Hillary, ’08: who wants to be part of THAT discussion?

    In a rather less likely scenario, Libertarians for Dean are going to be trying to explain why they don’t want their guy re-elected– what fucking sense does that make?

  26. Will wrote:
    “White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for it’s smarts.”

    What a bigoted comment! (FTR; I’m neither religious nor Southern) I guess it should be no surprise that he directly followed that comment with this stunningly inane one:

    “On the lower end of this group’s income spectrum you’ve actually got people who vote Republican when it runs counter to everything they actually need (welfare, aid, education) from an elected official.”

    Let’s hope Will isn’t an, “elected official”.

  27. A few weeks back the Economist suggested that if Dean is the nominee, the best thing for the Democrats would be either a victory or a decisive defeat. If Dean wins, well, then he wins and the Dems are obviously better-off for it. (The Dems, not the rest of us.) If he loses by a narrow margin, it will be hard for the Dems to say whether he was a good pick or not.

    On the one hand, a loser is a loser, no two ways about it. On the other hand, pulling off a narrow defeat against a President with some huge advantages is no mean feat. So in 2008 it will be tough for the Dems to decide whether they need a guy who appeals to the left and really rallies the base, or a guy who plays to the center.

    The best thing for the Dems would be to either win (any margin at all will do, a win is a win), or to lose big.

  28. Thoreau–

    You have it just about right. I would add, that you have to account for how much guys like Gephart and Lieberman actually despise the politique of Dean/Kuchinich– as is an unstatesman-like self-indulgence of the Perrier Left.

    America’s political culture rewards bi-partisan consensus– and that is not a bad thing. It permitted us to sustain a long struggle against communism with Dems in charge of the legislature most of the time, and the White House half of the time. It has made America the vehicle of freedom in a world otherwise fairly hostile to liberty.

    If your political model can’t explain this, there is something wrong with your political model.

  29. Thoreau –

    I agree with your second post, but I feel pretty confident that Bush will destroy Dean. It’ll be like a Reagan/Mondale rematch.

    But if you want to keep believing that the media are beyond reproach and do not have preferences, then keep believing it. The media are 80% Democrats, but there’ MODERATE Democrats. This isn’t a post about liberal bias in the media. Liberal bias exists, but only if you call Clintonism “liberal”, which by any objective measure it isn’t. I don’t call the center-left “liberal”, although some do.

    The new Democratic party, which Clinton remade in his image, is facing something they never expected, which is a left-wing insurgency operating outside the parameters of the party. Dean is a real outsider in this party – party elders and all members in good standing of the right-thinking center-left establishment are borderline terrified at what a Dean candidacy is going to do to the Democratic party. Therefore, there’s been an obvious and new focus on Dean’s flip-flops, anger, and trafficking in conspiracy theories, and this new focus has come about just as it’s become obvious that he’s probably going to win the primaries.

    It’s a bit much to describe this as a conspiracy theory. Journalists constantly make decisions about what the big stories and storylines are, for better or worse. It’s big news when Bush decides to “put arcenic in the water” (wasn’t true) but barely makes page A34 when he reduces mercury emissions, as he did last week. It was big news when Al Gore said he “invented the Internet” (he said no such thing), but that was the storyline, and the media stuck to it.

  30. Slippery Pete,

    Why would you have a problem voting for an atheist?

    BTW, how does Dean’s decision indicate a lack of judgment?

  31. Slippery–

    I am not at all sure that the Democratic party was re-made by Clinton, although he did rescue it from becoming a PURELY left-wing party, they need the Left.

    It is not at all clear that Dean will win the primaries– what does he do, after New Hampshire?

    But: If the Dems nominate Dean, Nader has no rationale for running on a third-party ticket…and no prospects (he is already apologising for throwing 2000).

    If they nominate a pro-war candidate, Nader not only runs, but possibly reaches the 5% threshold, and the Dems are stuck with him forever.

  32. You tell him Rececca! Come back in here.
    By Nov of ’04, it’s going to be anybody but Bush. He has simply set himself up for failure.

    I was as emotional as anyone to kick major butt after 9-11. That’s when I began throwing my nom de plume around. But I knew Bush was doomed when he dropped the food packages in Afghanistan at the same time as he was aiming smart bombs on camels’ butts over there–something he said he wouldn’t do.
    Another hint should have come when Shock and Awe didn’t shock and awe.
    If the US military had been as ruthless as I had in mind, we might have gotten somewhere, but, just as democracy and nation-building are oil and water, so is the war on terror. It’s the same tar baby as the war on drugs. The greater the struggle, the greater the hopelessness.
    All the next President of the US needs to do is point that out. Who can say it? Uncle Remus?
    Did I just say Colin Powell?

  33. How many people here– who would describe themselves as libertarians– simply believe that Bush is the best candidate (by far!), that generallt he has done a MORE than satisfactory job as president during crisis, and that typically Republican X is preferable to Democrat X for national office?

    I do. That aside, I suspect the Dems would do best to run Dean. Dean is a better “wild card” (run someone predictable and he just loses, like Dole). And a Dean canidacy supplies no rationale for another Nader run. Afterwards, the party Left will be suitably chastened, and disciplined for the next, and more serious, try.

  34. “I agree with your second post, but I feel pretty confident that Bush will destroy Dean. It’ll be like a Reagan/Mondale rematch.”

    I think the more apt comparison would be Nixon/McGovern. Dean is much more the iconoclastic outsider than the party elder statesman. But the heart of the comparison is apt, this represents a conservative Republican versus someone trying to unite the new Democratic base.

    The thing is, it isn’t 1972 anymore, and the McGovern coalition is going to be an electoral majority, if not in 2004 than shortly thereafter. Dean can unite fiscally- and socially-conscious New Democrats with the New Deal base. And, ruling out some sort of Republican realignment of women and ethnic minorities, that coalition is going to start winning elections.

    So depending on how the fight over the shrinking middle goes in the summer/fall of 2004, Dean either emerges as Goldwater, the prophet of the coming realignment, or Reagan, the culmination of the overthrow of the old majority. Either way, the country is far too evenly divided for a blowout like we used to see in the 70s and 80s.

  35. Americans, by and large, want a candidate who puts on a suit every week, goes to church, sits in a pew with a properly attentive and edified look on his face, and then ignores everything he heard for the rest of the week. Genuine unbelief, like genuine belief smacks too much of dangerous “radicalism.”

    As for Dean, if he follows his earlier pattern, this first step will be followed by: step two–howls of outrage from some quarters; and step three–immediate waffling and backpedaling, followed by an even weaker and more insincere image.

  36. To you folks who think atheists can’t get elected, I’m thinking of Goldwater’s line, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, etc.”
    I know. I know. He didn’t get elected. Plus I have the same confidence in the electorate as I do juries. And I think voting is silly.
    Still, I’m saying a tough-talking, pro-liberty, anti-government atheist could make a much bigger ripple than you think.
    Like Ah-nult, he or she would motivate the vast numbers of non-voters (not me–unmotivatable) who realize the cure must be more than blah blah, experience, compromise, middle of the road, and same old.

  37. Personally, I think any candidate who brings up religion is engaged in calculated, condescending pandering.

    It’s like con artists who use religion to get people to trust them and put aside their normal judgement and skepticism.

    It probably also protects a candidate from being tarnished by slanders directed at their opponents. For example, the lies about John McCain in South Carolina.

  38. It looks like Julian is now making shit up just like Fox does.

    I read the Fox account here and found nothing in it of substance about what Dean said about religion. So, I went back to the Boston Globe article they used as their source and found that Dean answered a question from the audience about his faith – that’s it. The New Republic requires a subscription so I’m not sure what their angle is. I saw no reference to the South (except in the reporter’s speculation) in his answer and, on its face, what he said seemed reasonable.

    Julian, maybe you know something I don’t but the links you provided show no calculated pandering or any announcement of any strategic decision “to pull out the God-talk for the rubes below the Mason – Dixon”. This is the same kind of smear that was used quite effectively on Al Gore, who never said he invented the internet.

    Take a quote, spin it and throw the chum on the water. What fun.

  39. I’ve had more than my share on this topic, but how to explain the popularity of Mark Twain, Robert Ingersoll, H. L. Mencken?
    It’s only been about a century on average since the unbelievable popularity of those three. I’m convinced a modern version would be electable.
    Most folks had Thomas Jefferson’s agnostic number by the time of his second election, yet he made it.
    Most posters here are afraid of their political shadow. Who da thunkit?
    This country has crossed the desert with politicians pandering to various religions. It’s thirsty for a truth-teller.

  40. Both Sanchez AND the New Republic appear to be using the “religious issue” as an excuse to jump Dean’s ship> I guess they don’t fancy his chances much. I never did.

    Bush is going to be re-elected– handily. He is going to, because the economy mended itself, and his foreign policy has been a success. The 30% of the electorate who can’t stand him, begrudge him his successes, not his failures.

    The question is whether Bush wins by 55% or 65%: my guess is 55%. Either way, he gets his four years. A good question: why does someone who deplores both parties vote for someone who is eligable for eight years, as opposed to four?

    So far as the establishment Left is concerned, the War on Terror ends in November 2004, if not before. It will cease to interest them, in that they assume it will have little to do with 2008, and played for Bush, anywqay.

    If libertarians were welcome at Slate and Salon it was as part of some “Popular Front”.

    Warching some libertarians chase the anti-war Left was like watching your best friend chase a girl who’s all wrong for him.

  41. Ruthless–

    Not one of those guys got elected to a damn thing.

  42. Just more amateur hour from Dean. Get a clue this guy has diarrea of the mouth and very little gravitas to survive in the big time. What more evidence do people need?

  43. gavin,
    As my California daughter might say, if she could be coaxed down from her redwood, “Gravitas is so yesterday.”

  44. Andrew, better the person you’ve known for the past four years, than the person you don’t know, when it comes to someone like OBL who is plotting every which way he can to pull off another 911. I didn’t vote for Bush, I still can’t stand him somewhat, but I’m coming to appreciate his standing firm on positions he feels strongly about. Now, Dean, he’s just another Clinton, except that he isn’t as smart about charming other people (yeah, I voted for Clinton twice, but had I known what he would be up to, I wouldn’t have voted for him the second time). He just turns me off with his flip-flopping and an angry attitude.

  45. I’m with you 110 percent Lola!
    OBL will get my vote in 2004!
    Thanks for lighting the way for us!

  46. Your comment indicates exactly why Dean WON’T win. The reason is that his supporters see themselves as elites and the southern folks as “rubes”. Believe me, some of the most brilliant people on this planet have a strong faith in God. Being spiritual and having faith in a higher power does not make one a rube- but thinking that you’re smarter than everyone based on your geography just might. πŸ™‚

  47. Will,

    You’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.

    But keep believing Southern religious conservatives are stupid – by all means, have at it …. it’ll keep your boy out of the White House.

  48. “Consider the demographic Dean’s trying to target: White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for it’s smarts.”

    Perhaps, but we do know how to punctuate. The sentence should read:

    “Consider the demographic Dean’s trying to target: White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for its smarts.” (my emphasis)

    “Its” is possessive on its own, and needs no apostrophe. “It’s” means “it is.” Take it from a white, conservative, religious Southerner…you obnoxious, elitist twit.

  49. It’s the PRIMARIES, geniuses. Screw the right and the middle.

    Sheesh.

  50. Gadfly –

    If this is a bogus story, then I think it represents a continuation of a trend I started noticing about 2 weeks ago. The media have gone into anti-Dean overdrive because they don’t believe he can win and would like to see another Dem win the primaries.

    Suddenly there has been a slew of stories in the mainstream press about some of Dean’s bizarre comments, flip-flops (tort reform, NAFTA, welfare reform, etc. etc.), and so forth. Many of them – Washington Post, especially – have been highly pointed for hard news sections.

    [I’m not interested in getting into a pissing contest with anybody (Jean Bart) over the definitions of “proof”, “pointed”, “hard news”, or any other little axes that somebody (Jean Bart) feels a need to grind.]

    Anybody else notice an anti-Dean trend lately?

  51. Are we having a surge of “push-polling” from the anti-Will element?
    Hang on Will!

  52. Glad to see Dean is taking the southern vote seriously. Is there any truth to the rumor that he will begin using the “n” word at private white southern fundraisers?

    How about the proposed campaign tactic of wearing leather S&M gear while campaigning in San Francisco?

    Maybe he could bring some raw whale blubber with him to enjoy with the locals on his Alaska visit?

    It’s really exciting to see the future of presidential campaigning.

  53. I liked it when he got reamed for saying OBL should get tried before we hang him.

    It’s not surprising that Fox news does this stuff. I don’t like to see Reason go that way, though.

  54. A Bush defeat in 2004 is exactly what bin Laden and co want.Being a libertarian, Bush is not my ideal candidate by a long shot, but a change of leadership in the middle of defending ourselves against the network of terrorist organisations and the states that sponser them would signal indecision, doubt and weakness to our enemies. So as far as I’m concerned, anyone voting against Bush in 2004, is voting for Al-Qaeda. Even some Democrats get this.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110004435

  55. I wouldn’t go as far as Shawn, but in 2004 the American people will have a choice about Iraq: announce a victory, and tell the world we’re proud of ourselves; call it a defeat and announce that we are ashamed of ourselves. The rest of the word will likely accept us at or own assessment, or at least have to consider that assessment seriously.

    Except for those incandescently angry with Bush, which makes more sense?

  56. I’d have to agree, the Southern Religious bashing is a bit telling. I’m an atheist who has actually read Darwin (go figure). I even have his treatise on earthworms. I know a few things about evolution and while I still believe that it makes overwhelming sense, you’d be wise to lend it a little more skepticism – and therefore, perhaps, lend religion a little more belief than it seems some of you do.

    There are problems with Neo-Darwinistic evolution that have not been answered and they are serious problems. Until those are answered, save the “those religious idiots” remarks. You only broadcast your own ignorance.

    Anyone who is even the slightest bit familiar with philosophy would know that religion has played very important parts in its development. Without the philosophical underpinnings devised by them there ignerunt relijus peepull very little of what we know today would exist. And if you think it’s easy, try reading your way through Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine. There philosophy was concise, deep and thoughtful. It wasn’t this blathering, masturbatory nonsense like Marcuse and Derrida.

    Furthermore, let’s name some of the really great artists in American history. Well, there’s Faulkner, and Twain, Eliot and Hemingway. Tennessee Williams and… as you can see, the Yankee states do not have a monopoly on genius.

    Today, while people are moving out of the east coast and the midwest, they are moving into the technology areas of the south and west in Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Denver and the like. If the Northeast is so much brighter than all others – and I am perhaps being presumptious about where much of these posts are coming from – than do tell why Silicon Valley is on the other side of the continent.

  57. bbridges:

    You wrote:

    “Glad to see Dean is taking the southern vote seriously. Is there any truth to the rumor that he will begin using the “n” word at private white southern fundraisers?”

    Best line of the day. I almost shot my spaghetti out my nose.

    Kevin Carson:

    Agree wholeheartedly with you. Reagan had the schtick down perfectly – he showed up for church the first few months he was president, and it was clear he didn’t really believe it. After a few months, he stopped going altogether. The public was perfectly happy with that.

    Some 90% of the public is religious, and most of them feel it’s an important part of character. I say, not necessarily, but I respect their views. Quitting the church over a bike path is so self-mocking, such a perfect distillation of the kind of liberal elite values much of the country is suspicious of, that I think it’s a serious liability for Dean (along with the conspiracy theorizing).

    I used to think Dean could track to the center in the general election with little problem. Now I don’t – he’s said too many goofy or scary things (complete reregulation of American business, to take one example).

    He’s toast. He’s a 3rd-party candidate running as a Democrat. That says something about the sorry state of the Democrats today. That’s what you get when your party message consists of interest-group pandering and resistance to all change.

  58. Well, Julian. You made the shit up and the pigs ate it.

    Happy?

  59. Will wrote:

    I think you’re giving too much credit to religious folks. For one, this whole religious-tactic is only being discussed within the blogsphere – it hasn’t made it’s way into the mainstream yet. Hell, I doubt most Southern churchgoers evey know who Dean is…

    Consider the demographic Dean’s trying to target: White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for it’s smarts.

    On the lower end of this group’s income spectrum you’ve actually got people who vote Republican when it runs counter to everything they actually need (welfare, aid, education) from an elected official.

    This was Dean’s whole point with the confederate flag comment – that he wants to reach out and grab a group who vote with their bibles and not their brains… based upon just a few issues. If he can sway them it will be a windfall.

    REPLY: As a white, conservative, religious Southerner, I find your remarks condescending at best, and insulting at worst. Yes, I know who he is.

    Dean’s remarks on “Hardball” that he would consider breaking up Fox News on “ideological grounds” doesn’t sound like he gets “freedom of speech,” at least not if it is conservative speech. But then liberals only care about their freedom of speech, screw everybody else.

    I don’t vote with my Bible instead of my brain, so I’m not voting for a guy who can’t stand having an outlet for views he doesn’t agree with, and who would let ideology determine who gets to have freedom of speech.

    Tell Dean to keep insulting me and my fellow Southerners and see if we will vote for him. Chances aren’t good.

  60. The fact is, when you go to Detroit you talk about things that are of interest to auto workers. When you go to the Bible Belt, you talk about things that are of interest to the people there, namely your religious beliefs. Along with other things. There seems to be a perception here that Dean is an atheist who is going to pretend to be a Christian to pander to the Southern vote.

    An interesting thing in the Globe interview is that Dean defends Lieberman’s and Bush’s expression of their religious beliefs as something that people need to know about you if you’re running for prez.

  61. When you say “wipe out these animals right now”, do you mean that Israel already knows the name and location of each terrorist?

    I assume he meant the Palestinian Arabs.

    Sure, not all Palestinians are evil and deserving of death. Neither were all the Germans and Japanese, during WW2. This is not really a relevant point, though; what matters isn’t that good people exist, but that evil people hold power while the good do nothing to stop them. I see nothing wrong with referring to Hamas and its supporters, and Arafat and all of HIS supporters, as “animals” — except inasmuch as I actually like animals and think it’s wrong to kill every last one of them.

    Obviously simply annihilating ALL the Palestinians would be wrong, just as it would have been wrong to react to Japanese aggression by killing every single person in Japan. But launching an actual war against the “state” of Palestine, on the other hand, would not be wrong in any sense of the word. Israel could, if it chose to, do something similar to what we did to the Japanese during WW2: bomb them, starve them, and generally demoralize them until they are forced into an unconditional surrender on Israel’s terms.

    I don’t agree with the previous poster that “morality” keeps Israel from doing this. Morally speaking, they have every right to do it. They don’t do it because their only ally — the United States — would cut them off if they tried it, and the neighboring Arab nations would invade in “retribution”. I consider this unfortunate; I don’t think peace will happen until the Palestinians understand that they have lost their war, and learn to exist on terms specified by civilized people. None of the current “roadmaps to peace” lead in that direction.

  62. pete: those who know they are morally correct tend to dig the biggest and fanciest mass graves, regardless of religious or political background.

    not picking sides in a fight i have no say in seems to be rational – especially since the actions of the participants in this debate have little or no say in what happens next – but if it be laziness, so be it.

  63. Slippery Pete,

    Oh, poor baby. Can’t take the heat I see. πŸ™‚ If you mind the fact that I eviscerate your poorly thought out posts, well, I would suggest that you stop posting.

    Now, let me ask you again; how do you justify the following statement?

    “I’m an atheist, and even *I’D* be nervous voting for an atheist.”

    What is it about atheists that make them especially noxious or unappealing as political candidates? Or were you just in a mood to pander to the theists here?

  64. Andrew at 05:11 AM December 28, wrote:
    “How many people here– who would describe themselves as libertarians– simply believe that Bush is the best candidate (by far!), that generallt he has done a MORE than satisfactory job?…I do”

    To make that position coherent you would have to change the definition of “satisfactory” to such an extent as to render it unrecognizable.

    The growth of government has exploded under Bush’s watch. He’s a big spending liberal who calls himself a conservative. Civil liberties have been hit and are further threatened with Patriot II and an alteration of the Posse Comitatus proscriptions against using the military in operations against US civilians. The Bush administration prosecuted an elective war against Iraq and concocted wild fabrications (WMD and terror connections) in order to (neo)con us into supporting it.

    “typically Republican X is preferable to Democrat X for national office”

    True, but Bush is no typical Republican. Hopefully the Republicans in congress who venerate the principle of limited government (go to NTU.org and see who they are) will not be punished at the polls as Bush should be.

  65. gadfly,

    Julian Sanchez lie? Never. πŸ™‚

    It is rather hilarious that not one vote has even been counted, and yet we have the level of disinformation, “discussion,” etc. we see here.

  66. Rick Barton,

    I think that ultimately too many libertarians (and people of other ideological persuasions) seek “salvation,” or something like it, in politics. Max Weber warned against this.

  67. Joe: Dipshit? Moi? Let’s see. I hate a nation so much I pray daily for it’s destruction and the death of all it’s people. What could make me hate them more? What could spur me to get up off my prayer rug, strap a bomb aroud my gut, and go blow up a few of their babies? I know! They could build a fence to keep me out! Boy, that’d make me mad! Yessirre, if those dirty Jews try to defend themselves I’ll be mad as heck.
    Liberating Iraq was one of the smartest things this nation has ever done. It was made by people with a long view of things, people who understand the dominoe effect. OBL knows how important it is and sends his warriors to do battle there to face certain death and defeat. And he’s sorry that his buddies in the West, people like Joe, couldn’t prevent this war from happening.

  68. Dan-

    I don’t think all-out war against the Palestinians would work if their enemies are suicide bombers. Sure, most Palestinians could be beat into submission by Israel’s military might. Arafat’s compound could be reduced to rubble in a matter of seconds. But the suicide bombers would not say “Oh, no, they’ll kill me if I do this” because they were planning to die anyway.

    The only way it would work is if all-out war against the Palestinians could annihilate the suicide bombers before they strike. But that would require knowing where the suicide bombers are precisely. And if they knew that all-out war wouldn’t be necessary, just surgical strikes. In the absence of such info they’d have to kill everybody in the Palestinian areas to make sure they got all the suicide bombers. And that option would prompt Arab retaliation, loss of US support, and probably internal problems for Israel (I think it’s safe to assume that a lot of Israelis would push for “regime change” if their leaders tried genocide, for fairly obvious reasons).

    I don’t claim to know what the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem is, but all-out war is not the answer, so there’s no point in applauding either Israeli self-restraint or the US policy of restraining Israel, or whatever it is that’s preventing a nightmare scenario.

    Anyway, if nobody in the US, or at least nobody in the US, knows how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this begs an obvious question: Why is the federal government involving itself in a problem that it can’t solve? (You know, the same problem posed by most federal programs.)

  69. Correction: The statement

    if nobody in the US, or at least nobody in the US

    should read

    if nobody in the US, or at least nobody in the US government

    This error was brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department

  70. I know this is off-topic, but:

    Thoreau, please elaborate more on the specifics of radioactive dating and evolution.

  71. Dr. J at 12:40 AM,

    Congratulations from a non-religious, non-Southerner for further exposing Will’s comments for what they are!

  72. Pete,

    Let’s be realistic here: we are not going to put a sovereign government in place in Iraq, at least not in the next six months. Since the end of the Germany and Japan occupations, when have we ever put a legitimate gove’t in place? We love our little puppet governments. As far as Afghanistan goes, if we used the same amount of troops and firepower we used in Iraq, there might not be an Al-Qaeda anymore. All we did in Afghanistan was lay down a speed bump for Al-Qaeda, nothing more. If Bush gets re-elected, what do you think he’s going to do next? We’re going to Syria and do a little regime change there. After that, probably Iran. You’re talking about four years of non-stop war. The middle east is political quicksand for any western nation. Can you think of any that have been able to hold on to land/territory there for more than a decade? Mark my words, right now is the calm before the storm: we’re having theses great “victories” in the middle east, but we will stretch our military too thin over there and it WILL be our un-doing. What really blows my mind about this administration is how they think they’re going to un-do thousands of years of fighting in the middle east within a few years.

  73. Jean Bart,
    I’m not familiar with Weber’s writings on this but I am aware of some politicos who seem to seek personal “validation” via politics. Not that that is necessarily bad (or good).

  74. I realize this thread is a few days old and probably won’t receive much attention now, but I did want to answer a few criticisms to my earlier comments. First of all I am a southern ? I grew up just a stone?s throw away from Bob Jones University? and I come from a Southern Baptist family?

    You people who are saying, ?I?m southern and religious and conservative and I?m NOT dumb? are taking my comments too personally. Further, you?re basing your defense on your own antidotal experiences where as I?m looking at the board swath of people, places and history. Some guy up thread was mentioning how he had a PhD. Big whoop. What?s your point? There are still millions of white good?ole boys out there that would take that fancy piece of paper and whip the grin off your face with it. Yes, my brush stroke is board, but I figure its fine to make an off the cuff generalization as long as you don?t apply that generalization to the individual.

    As a whole ? there is a loud mouth section of the white, southern, evangelical population who are incredibly superstitious, distrustful of book learn?n, and all around ignorant people. These are people who on one hand may support Israel because of some sort of half-ass Left Behind take on reality but on the other may be prejudice toward Jews.

    And sure, your true, Bob-Jones-esq fundies may be a minority throughout the south, but you still have a large majority of silent partners who sit beside them in the pew every Sunday? who never speak up to curtail their whacky antics or superstitions. And who certainly don?t apologize for them. So in my view the whole lot of them shares equal guilt in supporting far-out, wrong-minded ideas and values.

    A further subset of this group is the confederate flag bumper sticker folks. They are homophobic and still openly practice a mild form of racism. They vote republicans because they see the current southern, republican candidates as the heir-apparent to the dixicrats of the past. They don?t seem to care about candidates who are actually trying to lift them up out their own trailer park poverty ? perhaps, because they don?t want to be part of something that may actually help blacks too.

    So you?ve got bible thumpers and rebel flag wavers ? and even within this discussion these people are being marginalized to the realm of ?stereotype? ? but there are MILLIONS of these people out there? and if a democratic candidate can reach to them and convince them that they are getting a bum deal when they vote republican it would help that candidate. That?s all I?m saying? and that?s all Dean is trying to do.

    There is very REAL trend toward anti-intellectualism throughout the southeast perpetrated by superstitious, religious boneheads on the rest of the population. We all know this? I don?t know why you guys are so defensive about it.

  75. I grew up in Milwaukee, but I spent a year of high school in South Carolina (long story). I concluded that South Carolina has a lot of idiots running around.

    But when I returned home I realized that Milwaukee also has a lot of idiots running around.

    Then I moved to California a few years later, and we all know California has a lot of idiots running around. Um, I mean, Kahleeforneeah has a lot of idiots running around (must use the new official pronunciation πŸ˜‰

    Some people think “diversity” means we’re all great in our own special way. I think it means every group is equally messed up in its own special way, my own group included.

    So yes, Southerners are a bunch of closed-minded people. So are the rest of us.

  76. Whit –

    If you’re saying that we can NEVER put a sovereign government in place (or, more accurately, that we can never midwife the rules and laws that will allow Iraqi citizens to put a sovereign government in place), then I absolutely disagree. The notion that we’ll have substantial troops there, and running the place, forever is fantasy. But I already agreed that 6 months seems too ambitious.

    You wrote:

    “As far as Afghanistan goes, if we used the same amount of troops and firepower we used in Iraq, there might not be an Al-Qaeda anymore.”

    Al Qaeda exists if far more countries than just Afghanistan. And we’re still killing al Qaeda by the score over there. There’s no need whatsoever to send 150,000 GIs to the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan to hunt down leftover mujahadeen. When can bomb them from the skies when they stick their evil little heads up for air.

    In 2000, al Qaeda was virtually a sovereign state with a seat on the UN, for chrissake. They had a sovereign base of operations and very strong links to a neighboring NUCLEAR POWER. Now tens of thousands are dead or arrested, their leaders killed, captured, or hiding in a few dozen caves. If you call that a speedbump, you’re positively insane. It’s beyond parody.

    I’ll mark your words, cowboy. I marked the words of the anti-everythings when they predicted our defeat in the dreadful Afghan winter. I marked the words of the nihilists, defeatists, and Islamofascist fellow-travelers when they predicted our defeat during the fearsome Iraqi summer. I marked the words of those who predicted humanitarian catastrophe in both places. I marked the words of those who predicted that the Arab street would rise up as one and unite in holy war against us.

    I’m still marking words. Yours are just more words. I’m still waiting for any of them to come true.

  77. I took a group beatdown a few days ago for making fun of the French, so I’ll risk further ignomy by defending Will.

    I think maybe Will’s post got some of us to thinking that it was due to the whiteness, religiosity, or southern location that the people he mentioned were ignorant. And if that’s what he meant, I’d disagree – there is nothing inherent in whiteness, religiosity, or southern heritage that connotes ignorance.

    But as a simple statement of fact – that there are a lot of white, religious southerners who are anti-intellectual and not-so-subtly racist – it’s true. It really is, I’ll back Will to the hilt on it.

    And there are a lot of New Yorkers who sneer about us rubes in the midwest, but know nothing about anything below 42nd street (or whatever). But, as they say, we’re not talking about them. We’re talking about white southern fundamentalists.

    Will is absolutely correct that the dixiecrat mantle, once a pillar of the Democratic party (to mix a metaphor), is now being carried by Republicans. There is an EXPLICIT and intentional plan in place to attract poor, religious, southern whites by appealing to their cultural values, including racial antagonism if not outright racism. Republicans do this by speaking code – defending southern “heritage”, the Confederate flag, speaking at Bob Jones, and on and on. Haley Barbour, for example, refused to ask the Counsel of Conservative Citizens, a white supremicist Southern group, to take his picture off their website, or to refuse their endorsement. This was code, a wink, and a nudge to white, fundamentalist, southern racists – “I can’t actually SAY I agree with you, but – wink, wink – I do. Vote for me.”

    This is referred to as the southern strategy, a well-documented phenomenon that anybody in this field is already intimately familiar with.

    Anybody wanting a better and deeper history of the dixiecrat migration to the Republican Party should pick up the acclaimed Up From Conservatism, by former TNR staffer Michael Lind.

  78. Shawn at 09:42PM December28 wrote:

    “but a change of leadership in the middle of defending ourselves against the network of terrorist organisations and the states that sponser them would signal indecision”

    That misses the point. Our government should stop drawing targets on or backs by supporting the Israeli governments thieving, murderous occupation of Palestinian land.

    The safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends…on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war.
    John Jay, Federalist Paper No. 4

  79. Well Pete, unlike you I don’t look at the short term successes. Yes, they are great to a certain extent, but look at history as a guide. I say again, no western power has been able to hold onto or truly shape any territory or country over there (the Middle East) for a significant amount of time or put a democratic government in place that has lasted.
    As far as we ” can bomb them from the skies when they stick their evil little heads up for air.” Give me a break. U.S. air power has never been designed for guerilla warfare; it’s a broad sword, not a scalpel. 150k troops are what you need to completely eradicate Al Qaeda from Afghanistan.
    Thanks for the cowboy comment. I think it applies better to the gov’t officials who think we can go where ever we want and when ever we want to spread democracy, throwing our Constitution and Int’l law to the wind. But wait a minute, we’ve been doing that the last 25 years anyway. This type of attitude is slowly isolating us from the big players of the world. Great Britian has all but said they will not support us anymore w/ re: to “regime changes” and so forth since this little debacle in Iraq. Let’s see what happens in another ten years if we keep this up. It won’t be pretty.

  80. Damn all these TNR’s!

    The TNR I referred to above is The National Review, not The New Republic.

    Clarification: Haley Barbour just won the race for governor of one of those big southern states – Mississippi I think, maybe Alabama. He used to be the RNC chairman. And he’s ok with hanging out with white supremicists as long as they vote for him.

  81. make that; “targets on our backs”
    sorry about that,… preview button, preview button, preview button…

  82. Consider the demographic Dean’s trying to target: White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for it’s smarts.

    Is it true that fundamentalist Christians are, on average, less educated than non-fundamentalists? Yes. Fundamentalism is negatively correlated with education level.

    Of course, so is being black. Or poor. Or a member of a union. Somehow, all of these “idiots” still manage to figure out which side their bread is buttered on, in terms of political affiliation. Apparently it doesn’t take a college education to tell shit from shinola.

  83. Whit –

    Inasmuch as we’re discussing whether we’ll be able to transfer sovereignty to Iraqis in the next 6-12 months, I’d call that short-term, wouldn’t you?

    Two, airpower alone is not much good in a counterinsurgency campaign, but airpower plus CIA operatives on horseback wielding laser pointers are very, very effective. And anyway, if you think pouring 150,000 troops into the mountainous, lawless no-man’s-land between Afghanistan and Pakistan is a good idea, you’re nuts. That’s why we’re not doing it.

    What does that mean – GB will not “support us” on any more “regime changes”? What’s that mean? DId some report ask Tony Blair, “Mr Prime Minister, hypothetically, if the US were to invade another country next week, would you support that?” It’s a stupid observation because it’s entirely hypothetical. As far as I’m aware, we’re not planning on invading anybody else anytime soon, regardless. Most of the sentient world realizes what a trick Tony Blair pulled off by intermediating GB with regard to the US and the rest of the world – that’s why Qaddafi pre-emptively surrendered to Blair and not France. Coicidence? No.

    I actually share your distaste with Bush’s cowboy swagger and talk, and his seeming eagerness to provoke other countries. That’s why, for so long, I’ve looked at the Dean campaign with such dismay. I’d desperately love to have a credible Democrat to vote for. But Dean isn’t credible, so we’ll have to take the good with the bad.

  84. Pete,

    CIA operatives don’t point lasers at targets, thats what military Spec Ops are for.

    “if you think pouring 150,000 troops into the mountainous, lawless no-man’s-land between Afghanistan and Pakistan is a good idea, you’re nuts. That’s why we’re not doing it.”

    Bullshit. Complete bullshit. The reason there isn’t 150k troops there is that we need that many to go after and hold Iraqi oil, er I mean to liberate and rebuild Iraq.

    “As far as I’m aware, we’re not planning on invading anybody else anytime soon.”

    Oh yeah? Several friends of mine in the military have already been told that Syria is definately the next military target. They’ve been told that since June. Why? They harbor terrorists, which we have known for 2 decades. Plus, there is a belief that Iraq’s WMD ended up there.

    With regards to GB, I was refering to what Parliament has said here and there, not Blair. Blair can sing Bush praises all he wants, but if Parliament (which as voiced there intolerence of Bush over the last several months) doesn’t want to back the U.S., Blair can’t override that. Unlike the U.S. giving Bush a blank check for war, GB still keeps their PM in check.

  85. I am not a religious person, but once I met a fellow who looked an awful lot litke Jesus. He wasn’t from the South, but he had folks there. Smelled kind of like stale oreo cookies.

    Anyhoo…There is only one way Dr. Howard Dean can get elected President: by showing a little more skin. Bear (or should I say “bare” – teehee!) with me on this point. It’s a well-established fact that the tallest candidate usually wins the election. It wasn’t for nothing that Dukakis was standing on telephone books during his debates with the suprisingly tall (6’3″) George H. W. Bush.

    It is a much less-well known fact that the paler candidate also usually loses. To wit: Howard Dean needs to know that Mr. and Mrs. America are rather unlikely to elect some pasty, pale little bitch from Vermont leader of the Free World! GWB, by contrast, is, whatever his faults as leader, a robust, manly, non-pale Texan. He jogs regularly outside. He may even keep a tanning bed in the basement (though that didn’t save the hapless Bob Dole. Mr. and Mrs. America are very perspicious with re: false, ugly, orange tanning bed tans vs. authentic outdoor skin. Be wary).

    Prospects for pale, nasty, pudgeball ex-VT governor: at most, US Senate.

  86. Maybe he should buy a ranch, have a few photos taken, and pretend he was born there.

  87. Dean threw away any chance of winnning in the south with his “stop voting on God, Guns and Gays” remark. This from a party whose left wing he claims to represent obsesses about God, Guns and Gays. Most religious people I know votes were not influenced by their religion until the government started stepping into their private life by using the schools as vehicles to advocate for homosexuality and whatever the liberal fad of the week is. If there is one group that gets stomped on by this society, (outside of smokers and recreational drug users) its fundementalist Christians. They are vilified by the national media and dominant culture and forced to send their kids to public schools where they are told everything their parents teach them is bunk. The sad fact is that some of the most intolerent people in this regard claim to be libertarians. Yes, we are all free as long we all think the same way!!

  88. Whit –

    Wrong. It was CIA operatives who were using laser pointers. I’m sure special ops are now too, but remember (ha!) that the CIA was in Afghanistan long before the fighting started, integrating with the Northern Alliance, and it was they who pioneered the use of laser pointers. Not that that matters any.

    Two, defend your idiotic conspiracy theories or drop them. Whose oil are we holding, and for whom, and what are your sources? Trafficking in unsubstantiated conspiracy theories only makes you look like a wingnut. Back it up if you can.

    So, several pals of yours in the military assure you that Syria’s next, eh? How interesting! Amazing how they barely got their plan for Iraq together in time, but we already have the invasion plan for Syria planned out, and we’re distributing it throughtout the ranks!

    Listen, my friend. Anybody assuring you of ANY invasion plans is lying to you or is full of shit. In either case, such a person would not be able to maintain the security clearances necessary for that kind of access if they blabbed it to tinfoil-hatters like yourself. You are deluding yourself if you actually believe.

    I actually know whereof I speak on this one, because I’m in the business, so to speak. I can assure you that anybody running his mouth to you is full of shit, and wouldn’t be privy to the information anyway. If, theoretically, he WERE privy to the information (a metaphysical impossibility, keep in mind), then he’d be committing a felony. So spare me the stupid rumor-mongering.

    Finally, regarding GB, you’re speaking in unanchored hypotheticals with no relation to anything, so there’s nothing to debate.

    To recap: Please do tell all about this amazing conspiracy to grab Iraq’s oil. How are we going to pull that off? How does the US government manage to launder that much money? How are we going to keep the front-companies secret long enough to launder EIGHTY SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS? Is this something that your very important and in-the-know military buddies told you about?

    Bonus question: Since we invaded Iraq to grab all that yummy oil, I presume we’ve already decided to invade Syria for the same purpose? How much oil does Syria have, anyway? So many questions…pass the tin foil…

  89. I agree with Dr. J entirely, especially on two major points:

    • All the stuff he says when you’re not posting. He totally set us up da bomb, likewise, thank you, llike a good chitlin. and
    • “I like big butts, and I can-not lie…”

    -Rufus

  90. I don’t think all-out war against the Palestinians would work if their enemies are suicide bombers. Sure, most Palestinians could be beat into submission by Israel’s military might. Arafat’s compound could be reduced to rubble in a matter of seconds. But the suicide bombers would not say “Oh, no, they’ll kill me if I do this” because they were planning to die anyway.

    Suicide bombers are not independent operatives. They are recruited, trained, and equipped by what passes for “the government” in Palestine: Hamas, Hezbollah, Arafat’s flunkies, etc. This, in my view, places the suicide attacks in the category of “military operations by the Palestinian government”. So it goes without saying that Israel should consider itself at war with Palestine until such time as the attacks cease for good.

    Virtually none of the suicide bombers have been Israeli Arabs. All Israel needs to do is seal the border — which they’re in the process of doing — and shoot people who try to cross it (aka “invaders”). Pretty standard wartime stuff.

    So Israel could try something like the following:
    (1): Tightly police their borders for the duration of the war.
    (2): Begin a campaign of sustained bombing, such as the United States and Great Britain conducted against Japan and Germany.
    (3): Continue until either (a) the Palestinians stop attacking Israel and surrender or (b) Palestine is wiped off the map.

    I can live with either result, but I’d much prefer (a). Of course, (a) requires that the Palestinians actually start making an effort to police themselves…

  91. Since the end of the Germany and Japan occupations, when have we ever put a legitimate gove’t in place?

    I sense a “no true Scotsman” argument about to burst forth. Nevertheless:

    Panama, Grenada, and possibly Haiti, assuming you’re limiting the selection to only governments that the United States personally removed, without the use of proxies.

    Of course, if you place that limit on things, then the list of post-WW2 *illegitimate* governments we’ve established is extremely short. Possibly nonexistant.

    If you do not limit the list to governments we personally, directly established, and extend the list to include governments whose establishment we provided direct financial and political support to, then “most of Eastern Europe”, “Russia”, “Taiwan”, and “Nicaragua” make the list. And of course a large number of illegitimate governments we backed during the Cold War (because a friendly dictator is better than a Communist one) made the transition to democracy once they could no longer play us off against the USSR — Phillipines, South Korea, Taiwan, much of Central/South America, etc — due in no small part to pressure from the United States to clean up their acts.

  92. Will wrote:
    “White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for it’s smarts.”
    ==========
    Once the south, was the solid south, always voting Democratic, every state, every seat,
    until it started to change in the ’70s.

    Once the black vote was Republican, because Lincoln was a Republican, and freed the slaves,
    but that changed in the early 1900s.

    Now the urban areas vote Democratic,
    and the rural areas vote Republican.

    One reason is that the Democrats have to please
    too many different, sometimes opposing elements.

    Will’s right, to the country as a whole,
    the south isn’t KNOWN for its smarts,
    and that is a prejudiced view they hold.

    The more people talked about Dean,
    and the media gave him positive coverage,
    the more people liked Dean.
    But the more Dean talks about people,
    and the media is giving him negative coverage,
    the less people like Dean.

    Add this current seemingly religious insincerity
    to his seemingly lack of backbone in avoiding the draft, plus
    add to his seemingly deceitful attempt to color the death of his brother as military (MIA) related, when Dean didn’t think it was,
    and it totals up as a man who isn’t to be trusted,
    who is going to keep revealing himself in an ever increasingly bad light.

    Democrats had better wise up, or they will be viewed as a group NOT known for THEIR smarts.

  93. No, no, Dan. You have your facts all wrong. The US leaves nothing but fascism and ruin in its wake, and Jews aren’t allowed to defend themselves. Didn’t you get the memo?

  94. Pete,

    You aren’t the only one “in the business, so to speak.” Well, formerly here.

    CIA recruits, Green Berets and SEALs train indigenous peoples and carry out spec ops. If you had bothered to read the last part of my previous post, I said Syria would be the next target b/c they harbor terrorist.

    As far as Iraqi oil is concerned, Iraq has one of the largest oil fields in the middle east. Kinda funny how Haliburton “won” the no-bid contracts right off the bat to manage Iraq’s oil fields. Hmmmm, seems Rummy used to be a CEO for Haliburton and at one point Bush owned a substantail amount of stock in the company. Coincidence, quite poissibly.

    You’re right about the rumor part with regards to us going to Syria next. I should have pointed out that was a big rumor circulating within the military. Of course, I remember in early 2001 there were rumors that within 12 to 14 mos., we would invade Iraq or N. Korea. We know how that ended. The rumors usually start out something like “my buddy in Intel says there’s a lot of chatter about country ABC and they’re in the early stages of getting X and Y divisions ready for deployment.”

    “Amazing how they barely got their plan for Iraq together in time, but we already have the invasion plan for Syria planned out.”

    If you’re in the business, then you would know that there are contingent battle plans the military has in place at all times for many different countries. Ever heard of OPLAN 1015? It’s the main battle plan for an invasion of North Korea. A great deal of it is classified, but you can find the highlights of it on sites such as globalsecurity.org. The battle plan that was put in place for the invasion of Iraq by late October 2002 was fine except for the fact that Rummy denied Franks the final 3 divisions the plan called for. 1st Armor Div., 4th ID, and the “Big Red One” (the whole divsion, not parts) were supposed to be on the ground along with 3rd ID, 101st, and the Marines. If we had the additional strenght of those 3 divisions, we wouldn’t have had weeks of rioting and insurgents running around that country.

    At one time there were at least 3 battle plans for Iraq as of 2002. I know b/c I saw parts of 2 of them with my own eyes. Military Intelligence is constantly helping the planners tweak them as new info./intelligence becomes available. There’s battle plans for every country in the middle east, not to forget China, Russia (yes it’s always being updated), plus parts of Africa. BTW, that kinda stuff isn’t classified, just the nitty gritty of those plans.

    BTW, what the hell is a “tin-foil hatter?” I’ve never heard of that term.

    I never said we were going to launder money from Iraqi oil. But when you control the oil, the books, and the distribution with ZERO oversight (i.e. no NATO or UN involvement), then you can do whatever you damn well please with the money.

  95. Quote: “What we’ve put up with for the last 3 years is awful, but it hasn’t had a large and direct negative impact on the life of the average voter.”

    Um, if it hasn’t had a large or direct negative impact on the lives of American’s, then what’s so bad about the last 3 years?

    Honestly, you sound like Rush Limbaugh circa 1992-1999, only going the other direction.

  96. Whit –

    I’m perfectly aware of contingent battle plans. We probably have a plan for invading Canada. But those plans age in some junior assistant secretary’s filing cabinet and then are wholly rewritten to suit the actual circumstances.

    It wasn’t Rummy who ran Halliburton, it was Cheney. (a) So what – he doesn’t own stock anymore. I used to work for GE but ask me if I give a shit about their stock price anymore. I don’t. (b) See the front page of today’s NYTimes – NO evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Halliburton. One part of my being “in the business” is work on contracts, including no-bid contracts, which are utterly commonplace. Further (see the recent NYTimes column by a former Clinton official), contracts are awarded in a completely nonpartisan environment, and always have been. (c) So what if Bush used to own Halliburton stock? What difference could that POSSIBLY make to him or anybody else?!

    You’re going to have to connect the dots here, smart guy. Tell me why George Bush’s former ownership of Halliburton stock (when? how much) has ANY impact on his decisions as president. Again, try not to invoke a Freemason and/or Jewish conspiracy. So many conspiracies, so little tin foil.

    The Defense ?ontract Audit Agency audits all revenues not going directly to the US government. You need to do a much better job connect the dots in your grand conspiracy theories. WHO is stealing oil money, HOW are they doing it, and (most tellingly) HOW do you know about it?

    Quite simply, there is NO basis for your bizarre conspiracy theories, and I suspect, deep down, you must know this.

  97. Mike Mangan at December 29, 07:58 AM wrote:

    “Rick Barton exposes yet another soft underbelly of the New Left, it’s flirtation with anti-semitism.”

    Mike Mangan commits two glaring errors here (in just one sentence!) First, is the ridiculous equating of opposition to the occupation, or any Israeli government action, to anti-Semitism. I’ll just point out the fact of the thousands of Israeli Jews who are against the occupation, the shameful theft of Palestinian property and our governments funding of it also see it as endangering themselves as well as being morally reprehensible. Their movement, now making headlines, sees US tax dollars as counter productive and rewarding the Sharon regime for hideous behavior.

    Second; I’m not “New Left”, or any other kind of Left. This should be obvious by the fact that in the same comment I quoted an admonition against foreign intervention by John Jay, from Federalist Paper No. 4. as well as my other posts in proximity to that post.

    “The Palestinians …don’t just want a chunk of land. They want every last Jew on this planet dead.”

    Sure; just try to ignore addressing the occupation itself and then use ridiculous hyperbole in to attribute the worst motivations to the victims, as if that negates the legitimacy of their complaint. The Soviet Union used this same type of approach to attack the victims of the Soviet occupations of Eastern Europe.

    The priority of the Sharon regime is the theft of Palestinian land to satisfy the “Greater Israel” agenda of the racist, religious wackos that Sharon has made political league with. The fact that our government is financing that theft is a shame and beneath the people of our country.

    To understand the racist, fundamentalist Jewish religious extremism that Israeli polity is currently gripped by, see the fascinating: “Jewish History, Jewish Religion” by Israel Shahak and also “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel” by Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky

    Mike Mangan at dec29, 11:54 AM wrote:
    “Joe: You actually believe that by building a fence to prevent their women and children from being blown up by madmen Israel will increase hatred towards it?”

    If the Sharon regime’s paramount concern was really the safety of it’s citizens it would not be promoting the illegal settlements in Palestinian territory.
    When the Israeli government expands settlements and steals vast swaths of Palestinian land under the guise of the “protection fence” it is they who are fighting a war of aggression.

    Also; Mike, perhaps the fact that the Palestinians have the second highest fraction of Christians of all the Arab peoples (the Lebanese are first) will allow you to view this situation a little more honestly.

  98. Rick –

    In your opinion, what lands does Israel have a right to exist on?

    Honestly, the thing that tags you as an anti-Semite is not the particulars of your criticisms of Israel or the Sharon government. It is that you focus obsessively, poring over every infraction, every imperfection, every misstep, every error ever committed in the name of Israel, yet you can hardly be bothered by Palestinian wrongdoings, or indeed anything else (except the wonders of Somali warlordism).

    There’s a name for paying “special attention” to Jews.

    In what material ways is Ariel Sharon different from Ehud Barak?

    I don’t know why I debate whack jobs like you, but I do.

  99. grayson said: I know a few things about evolution and while I still believe that it makes overwhelming sense, you’d be wise to lend it a little more skepticism – and therefore, perhaps, lend religion a little more belief than it seems some of you do.

    Off-topic, but the fact that there are unexplained phenomena in evolutionary theory (or any theory) in no way implies that religion is true. (Any particular religion or religion generally.) The two, in fact, have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I suspect you’re using “religion” as shorthand for “Judeo-Christian creation mythology” and not, say, “Australian aboriginal dreamtime stories,” but the fact still holds: Missing transitional fossils or a failure to account for some gross anatomical feature hardly validates Genesis 1 or 2.

  100. Stephen Fetchet wrote:
    “There ya go, Rick. Osama attacked us because we’re friendly with the J.E.W.S.
    Like Hayek, for instance.”

    Dumb; God is that Dumb!
    Our governments financing the occupation is not “friendly with the Jews”, as if Jews were some monolithic entity anyway. The Israeli governments murderous occupation in fact endangers a good many Jewish lives.

    Bin Ladden in his 9/11 Fatwa, told us our governments financing the occupation was one of the reasons for the attack.

    Hayek wasn’t a Jew although, he was falsely accused of anti-Semitism by opponents of liberty. So what in the Hell is your point in bringing him up? (I fear I might be asking too much here)

  101. Bin Ladden in his 9/11 Fatwa, told us our governments financing the occupation was one of the reasons for the attack.

    Yeah, and Ted Bundy blamed porn for his serial-murder spree. The thing is, Bundy didn’t actually mention the porn connection until he was trying to drum up support after his conviction.

    Much like Osama bin Laden didn’t think to mention the Palestinians until he desperately needed the Muslim world to help save his ass.

    That aside — “the occupation”? Almost the entire Middle East is “occupied” by people who took the land from its previous owners, using military force, during the last century. The Saudis CONQUERED the land they now rule; they have less claim to “Saudi” Arabia than Jews have to Israel (since virtually all of pre-1948-war Israel had actually been purchased by Jews). Does bin Laden give a shit? No. Do you? No. Why? Because this isn’t about legitimate land ownership, and it isn’t about self-determination. It’s entirely about those evil, evil Jews.

    If the land Israel sits on had been conquered by Jordan (ie, if Jordan had won its last war on Israel) nobody would give a fuck, just like nobody gives a fuck about the “Palestinians” living in Jordan and Syria. They wouldn’t have their own state, and nobody would think they deserved one — because nobody would be trying to pretend they have some sort of distinct, historically-legitimate national identity.

    Because this isn’t about “Palestinians” being ruled by invading oppressors. It’s about the evil, evil Jews, who earn the condemnation of the entire world for doing what nearly every other nation in the world can do without complaints.

  102. Rick Barton exposes yet another soft underbelly of the New Left, it’s flirtation with anti-semitism. The Palestinians and a few hundred million other Mideasterners dont’t just want a chunk of land. They want every last Jew on this planet dead. This desire is expressed by the man on the street, their state run media, and their highest ranking Muslim clerics.
    The vast majority of Americans, escpecially the Christian ones, support Israel and its right to exist. Affiliation with groups that oppose it is a tarbaby that will further marginalize the far Left.
    Keep up the good work Will and Rick. I say give you both a microphone and 15 minutes on CNN. You’ll produce thousands of Republican votes at no expense!

  103. Ah, Slippery Pete, your’e good, man! If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then Rick Barton is an anti-semite. Ridiculous hyperbole? I guess we can stop right there. If you can ignore all the proof behind that statement there’s no convincing you. Israel could pull every single “illegal” settlement tommorrow and the bombings would continue. They could give the Palestinians their own state tommorrow and the bombings would continue. And those bombers would be supported by the state run media in Egypt, the ones who ran the multi-part “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. They would be supported by the Mullahs of Iran and the rabid immams that infest every mosque in the middle east. And it’s a real good bet that they would continue to be supported by the likes of Rick Barton.

  104. Slippery Pete:
    “In your opinion, what lands does Israel have a right to exist on?”

    The pre-1967 borders; although the occupation could end with the Israeli government not yielding all of those annexations.

    Nothing “tags (me) as an anti-Semite”. You have made that quite laughable but still ugly accusation before, under a couple handles. I oppose all racism, the most primitive form of collectivism, and have attacked anti-Semitism specifically in at least one other thread on this blog( one about a critique of Quintin Terrantino movies).

    You should really look into Jewish History, Jewish Religion by Israel Shahak for the case of how Jewish fundamentalism harbors a racist, religious extremism of its own and how it affects the Israeli government’s attitude toward the Palestinians and Israels neighbors.

    Attacking the occupation is hardly nit-picking, as you seem to indicate.

    “you can hardly be bothered by Palestinian wrongdoings, or indeed anything else”

    How should I best put it? Wrong! I’ve attacked Arafat and I post on a number of diverse topics. May I suggest, with a diversity that far exceeds your own?

    “There’s a name for paying “special attention” to Jews.”

    Careful Pete, you just slipped into the Israeli government = “the Jews” fallacy.

    “In what material ways is Ariel Sharon different from Ehud Barak?”

    I’ll just give one. I don’t think Barak countenances the “Jews only” housing law for government land in open discrimination against the country?s 20% Arab population, that Sharon incredibly supports.

    SP; why do you never criticize the Israeli government? Are you blind to injustice?

  105. If somebody criticizes the French government does that mean he hates all French people? Of course not, he just dislikes the policies of the government.

    If somebody criticizes the policies of the German government, does that mean he hates German people? Of course not.

    Hmm, what are some other democratically elected governments that have gotten flack around here?

    Ooh, here’s one: If somebody criticized the policies of Strom Thurmond, does that mean he hates Southerners (to bring this thread full circle to prejudices and perceptions concerning Southerners)? Of course not.

    However, if one criticizes the policies of the Israeli government, that makes one an anti-Semite. Got it.

  106. Clarification:

    Some might object to my mention of the German government in a discussion of anti-Semitism. I intentionally chose two governments that have come under a lot of criticism here for their opposition to the invasion of Iraq. I am referring only to the current German government, no WWII analogies are intended.

  107. Dan:
    “Much like Osama bin Laden didn’t think to mention the Palestinians until he desperately needed the Muslim world to help save his ass.:”

    If you read the Fatwas going back for years you would know that is not true.

    “since virtually all of pre-1948-war Israel had actually been purchased by Jews”

    What nonsense! There was a mass dispossession of Palestinians (750,000) from their land. What do think the “right of return” question is about?

    They wouldn’t have their own state, and nobody would think they deserved one.

    What?? The British Mandate specified one in recogntion of the record historical asperations for one.

    If you’re so racist that you can’t look at criticisms of the Israeli government unless they come from Jewish sources, try Tikkun for a start: Tikkun.org

    Dan, you are obviously too ignorant of even the basic facts of the situation to carry on a debate.

  108. Thoreau –

    Spare me the facile comparisons. I know the difference between anti-Zionism, legitimate criticism, and anti-Semitism. People like Rick Barton, when he’s not batting his eyelashes at warlords like Mohammad Aidid, cross the line. It’s a judgment call – you may disagree. But I hope you can’t deny that this endless special attention paid by people like Barton to the ONE state (out of how many?) run mainly by Jews.

    His rhetorical trick is to take aim at Israel with both barrells blazing, using the harshest rhetoric and the strongest condemnation in his arsenal, and then dare us to ask why he doesn’t take aim at every other nation on Earth guilty of the same sins. Oh, he’ll point to the odd statement condemning, say, Belgium (not as freedom-loving as Somalia, though), and he’ll say a few words about Arafat, but it’s perfectly clear that his ire is reserved for Israel.

    There is nothing wrong, of course, with criticizing Israel or Sharon or any other state or politician. But it’s like obscenity – it may be hard to define, but I know it when I see it. When people like Barton save their rage for Israel – imperfect, as all states are, but the only state in that region with a vibrant democracy and a tradition of plurality and openness – and have a way of turning any argument into an indictment of Israel, eventually I draw my conclusions, as we all must at some point.

    By the way, Rick – your reflexive references to Tikkun is just a longwinded version of “I can’t be a racist, cause some of my best friends are black.” Weak and utterly unconvincing.

    I used to be shy about calling this spade a spade, because those who don’t perceive things the way I do assume that I love to hurl the “anti-semite” knife at anybody who dares to criticize Israel. I don’t. There’s plenty to dislike about Sharon’s policies – Barton would be surprised at the areas I agree with him. But in tone, in focus, in his lack of context, in his virulent rhetoric and routine rage at the issue, for me, it’s obvious what’s going on here. I know it when I see it. He can quote scripture from the Book of Ayn Rand all he wants – doesn’t change a thing.

  109. Oh, Jesus, Right when I was typing about Rick’s Tikkun fig leaf, he goes and does it again. Look, he reads a Hebe magazine so he can’t be an anti-Semite! That means nothing, Rick.

  110. Thoreau –

    A better analogy would be this. Does somebody’s criticizing a black politician make him a racist? Of course not.

    But if that person spends 75% of his time criticizing black politicians almost exclusively, and reserves all of his bile and rage for the Congressional Black Caucus, and sometimes hints that the CBC is really a front organization for Nigerians, and, especially, levels vitriolic tirades against blacks that could apply just as well to whites, pretty soon you start to wonder. Well, YOU might not, but I certainly do. Back in the bad old days when I was a Republican, I actually had a few friends-of-friends who, when the topic turned to politics, almost exclusively saved their criticisms for certain ethnic minorities. Oh, they’d swear, they’re not racists. “Some of my best friends are black” (or “I read Tikkun”). But after a few drinks, they get around to listing their grievances against Al Sharpton and Colin Powell and Condi Rice and Jesse Jackson, and they don’t shut up. And, yes, I draw conclusions. Damn straight.

  111. Mike Mangan:

    Flirtation!? They’re way beyond flirtation. Last week they were caught having sex at a rest stop bathroom.

  112. SP,
    Don’t flatter yourself. I don’t cite Tikkun
    to deflect your unfounded accusations of racism. I know this is asking a lot of you but why don’t you actually try reading it. Or, the Shahak volume. Read my posts and yours in this thread and others. I make points. You make silly accusations in response.

    “By the way, Rick – your reflexive references to Tikkun is just a longwinded version…”

    Pete! “reflexive”…”longwinded version”. Maybe if you spent less of your time making ridiculous accusations you could at least type a decent metaphor.

    “in his virulent rhetoric and routine rage at the issue, for me, it’s obvious what’s going on here.”

    Right; for you. That’s your misapprehension and your problem. Don’t bother the rest of us with it.

  113. Mike Mangan,

    Pathetic! You don’t bother to address any of the points I made attacking your post. You just trot out some name racist name calling.

    .

  114. Andrew wrote:

    How many people here– who would describe themselves as libertarians– simply believe that Bush is the best candidate (by far!), that generally he has done a MORE than satisfactory job as president during crisis, and that typically Republican X is preferable to Democrat X for national office?

    Obviously Yes, Yes with qualifications, and Yes with qualifications.

    The whole ?libertarians for Dean? thing was a fraud from the beginning in that on pretty much every issue which libertarians legitimately criticized Bush was just as true if not more so (spending, growing the federal government, steel tariffs) for any of the other Democratic candidates (except for Lieberman on trade) and it required ignoring both the issues on which Bush is clearly the superior candidate (Social Security reform, medical savings accounts, tort reform, gun rights, American sovereignty, school choice, promoting a more rational environmental policy, nominating strict constructionists to the judiciary) and the issues in which the Democratic candidates were inarguably worse (calling for a ?reregulation? of much of the economy, Kyoto accords, new federal gun control legislation, no reform of either Medicare or Social Security, creating a new federal health care entitlement and a more expensive prescription drug benefit).

    And yes I would say given the success of his foreign policy, the gradual reforming of our armed forces, and the fact that he has consistently pushed for Social Security reform and nominated some pretty good judicial nominees, that Bush has done a satisfactory job. I agree though he has not been good on restraining federal spending (much of which happened with a Democratic Senate which pretty much disproves the ridiculous ?divided government? excuse touted by ?libertarians? for Dean) and the steel tariffs were bad. However considering that each of the serious Democratic candidates does not think he spent enough and wants to spend more and that the steel tariffs are being repealed (the other protectionist measures seem part of the usual political horse-trading for votes that goes on in managed trade agreements just under previous administrations including Clinton?s when he got NAFTA and GATT), I?d still say that Bush is the better choice when it comes to 2004.

  115. Ralph wrote:

    Dean’s only chance is to pick a black VP.

    How do you figure this would increase Dean?s chances of winning? Prominent Black Democrats tend to be on the ideological extreme of their Party and there largely to win in majority Black districts which tends to minimize their appeal amongst more moderate and non-Black voters. Also since blacks make up something like 12% of the population/electorate and already vote Democratic by something like 80-90%, I don?t think that the margins will improve that much more to make a difference for Democrats (it?s not as if Geraldine Ferraro saved Walter Mondale in 1984) and would make it even harder for Dean to reinvent himself as a centrist Democrat.

  116. Slippery Pete wrote:

    I’m an atheist, and even *I’D* be nervous voting for an atheist.

    It depends on the candidate. Being an atheist merely means that a person does not believe in God (such as myself) but it does not tell you what they necessarily believe in. There are atheists who are pro-liberty (Ayn Rand and Objectivists) and those which are decidedly anti-liberty (communists and other secular leftists). Unfortunately the latter seem to be more representative among atheists than the former, so we will probably be electing religious or at least seemingly-religious Presidents for the foreseeable future.

  117. I think you’re right about the theoretical black running mate, Thorley. Better in theory than practice. The only African American politician with any national standing who doesn’t fit that definition is Harold Ford, and he’s too young. Hell of a speaker, though. I hope I get to nominate him in 2012. Mayber Doulas Wilder, but he’s too old.

  118. I am not a religious person but I just do not get this equation of religion and stupidity. I just read a book called Human Accomplishment by Charles Murray which identified and analyzed the four thousand most important people in the arts and sciences over the past twenty-eight hundred years. Virtually all of them were deeply religious. Were Shakespeare and Newton stupid?

  119. Shawn,

    With regards to your earlier comment that Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden want Bush to loose: this is precisly the opposite of what they want. Terrorists love presidents like Bush. They want a president in office that will keep running around the middle east pushing western views. Why you might ask? It’s the best recruiting tool available. The more Bush pushes his foreign policy, the more ammunition and propaganda terrorists have to recruit.

  120. Rick wrote:

    That misses the point. Our government should stop drawing targets on or backs by supporting the Israeli governments thieving, murderous occupation of Palestinian land.

    There ya go, Rick. Osama attacked us because we’re friendly with the J.E.W.S.

    Like Hayek, for instance.

  121. SP wrote,
    “There’s plenty to dislike about Sharon’s policies – Barton would be surprised at the areas I agree with him.”

    OK SP, And I have never written anything that should give you any thoughts that I harbor anything but disdain for racism. As I said; I have attacked anti-Semitism specifically in at least one other thread on this blog( one about a critique of Quentin Terrantino movies).
    My posts against different racist policies and advocacies of the Sharon regime are consistent with this disdain.

  122. Duh! Nobody cares what Charles Murray thinks because he’s religious. Shakespeare & Newton?? Hello, selection bias!

  123. Whit – This may sound a tad harsh, but your last post gets my vote for weakest analysis of the day.

    In 2000, Osama bin Laden essentially ran his own sovereign fiefdom. He had deep alliances in Pakistan’s government (especially its military), which had nuclear weapons and a documented eagerness to spread that joy around.

    Three years later, his Islamofascist fiefdom is occupied by Western troups and its leaders are debating a new constitution that, it’s safe to say, does not fully reflect bin Laden’s governing style.

    Three years later, he either lives in a cave or is dead.

    Three years later, the US is engaged in the project of remaking the middle east in its image, in the heart of Araby.

    Three years later, the clerics ruling Iran have confessed to their nuclear project and have invited the UN nuclear watchdog in to have a looksee.

    Three years later, the Islamist running Libya has confessed to its own WMD program and has invited everybody but Geraldo Rivera in to witness its dismantlement.

    George Bush is still popular, no more Americans have been attacked in the US, Israel is unilaterally establishing defacto permanent borders with US support, and God has smited Iran with an earthquake. The Arab street yawned when we invaded Iraq, and Saudi Arabia has started holding municipal elections and removing extremist material from its schools. Oh, and the US economy is growing at 8%.

    Somehow – I’m going out on a limb here – but somehow, I don’t think this is exactly how bin Laden wanted the whole thing to turn out.

  124. Barton, ya fink. (heh) I don’t need to address your pseudo-intellectual points. As far as I’m concerned the discussion ends with your refusal to admit the true danger that Israel faces. I will point out that your support for the “right to return” fully exposes you. If granted it guarantees the destruction of the state of Israel.

  125. Khaddaffi and Islamist? Not quite.

    Everything you said about Pakistan and Afghanistan would have been done by a Democratic president as well.

    And attempts to remake the Middle East in America’s image are the driving force between Bin Laden’s jihad. Seems to me he’s had a word or two to say about Arab governments that side with America.

    In 2000, the Taliban murdered several Iranian diplomats, because the Iranians had been supporting the Northern Alliance. You’re not doing yourself any favors by lumping a nationalist Shiite fundie government in with a global Wahabbi anti-government jihad.

    Why would Bin Laden care if George Bush is popular? Are you actually insane enough to think he’s motivated by American electoral politics?

    Israel’s new border fence is going to make prime footage for the next recruitment video. Yet more evidence of Jewish cruelty.

    Saudi Arabia – you do know what Bin Laden’s primary goal is right?

  126. Joe –

    You’re going to have to get past simplistic characterizations. I’m not saying that they all think alike. I’m saying that they all are on the run from us, because we’re winning and they’re not, and they have more in common with each other than we have with them. Come on.

    Your thesis seems to be: “The more we win, the better their recruiting will be!” I guess the only solution, then, is to fail and/or assume the fetal position.

    Your first point confuses me. If you think I was making a silly partisan point for Bush, I wasn’t. I’m a Democrat. My point was that they picked their fight with Bush as much as with the US generally, and he fought back like a dog and is winning on the ground, and is likely to be reelected so he can keep bombing them. Read up, chap.

  127. Bin Laden (along with every leftist) thought we would be crushed in Afghanistan. Wrong. Islamists in general (presumably including bin Laden) thought we would be crushed in Iraq. Wrong.

    Bin Laden thought 9/11 was a good start to his effort of EXPANDING the kind of caliphate he believed he had going in Afghanistan. He thought the Muslim world would rally behind him. He thought, in the aftermath, the US would be proven to be a paper tiger, too fearful to fight back and too weak to survive.

    Instead of Muslim states uniting, they are divided, and one of the biggest ones is being run by a guy named Paul. Instead of uniting in battle against the US, they are pleading for mercy and inventing a great new tool of international diplomacy, pre-emptive surrender.

    Remember, dude: They used to run a whole country. Instead of building up from that base, they’ve lost it all and are reeling.

    Yet, oddly, our shattering victories are bad for us because…it’ll help their recruiting!

    Heads I win, tails you lose. I think I get it.

  128. regional bigotries (i.e. stupid southerners, stupid northerners, etc) tend to be pretty universal, as i think it was thoreau who pointed that out. though a few months in richmond certainly had me wobbling for a bit, especially after being asked on three separate occasions by three separate people if new york city celebrated a ulysses s. grant day. i still puzzle over that one. there also seems to be a widespread impression – at least among some of the younger folk – that the city’s poopulation runs around in yarmulkes and buttless chaps, sodomizing and de-christianizing everything in sight.

    oh how i wish that were true…

    but it is terribly depressing when stereotypes come true, whether they be the white rasta no blood for freedom fries college kid or the “god created dinosaur fossils to fool the evil satanic scientists” crowd.

  129. Picked their fight with Bush? Khobar Towers, USS Cole, First WTC bombing, embassy bombings – all took place during Clinton’s presidency. The only difference between those events and Sept 11 was that they had enough time and experience to get really creative. The partisan affiliation of the president had nothing to do with it.

    “they have more in common with each other than we have with them.” Sort of like Stalinists and Trots. Or Polish communists and the Russian variety.

    I don’t think “The more we win, the better their recruiting will be!” Our victory in the Afghan war, for example, was a real blow to Bin Laden’s program. The distinction is between victory over Al Qaeda, and victories over Muslim countries/groups/movements that have nothing to do with Al Qaeda. Taking Baghdad had nothing to do with defeating Bin Laden; it just serves to make Bin Laden’s point that the US is indiscriminate in choosing targets in the Islamic world, that our statements about protecting ourselves are cover for territorial grabs, oil grabs, and the imposition of Western ways. So in that way, Bush did accomm

  130. I rarely encounter the stereotype that religious people in general are stupid. I frequently encounter the stereotype that fundamentalists (i.e. people who subscribe to the most literal, and frequently harshest, interpretation of the Bible) are stupid.

    It could be that there’s a grain of truth (as is the case with most stereotypes, hence they are so pernicious) in that fundamentalists may be less educated on average (not the same thing as less intelligent). Given some of the attitudes I encounter from some fundamentalists (although I hasten to add most certainly not all fundamentalists) this hypothesis may be worth investigating with data (you know, that thing we don’t have on this forum). A single fundamentalist Ph.D would not suffice to overturn it, just as a couple of high school dropout fundamentalists would not validate it, since the goal is to look at averages over an entire population.

    On evolution: Not being a biologist I won’t defend all the details of current theory in evolutionary biology, molecular biology, and biochemistry. But, as a scientist (nearing my Ph.D in physics) I will defend the basic idea.

    Despite the gaps in the fossil record (gaps that are often filled as new sites are excavated), there is a clear progression of life-forms. Not a perfect progression, some things appear without known precursors, some things appear without known descendants, etc. But there is a general progression from less advanced to more advanced creatures, with many (although most certainly not all) intermediate species identified. And radioactive dating establishes the dates of these fossils. So there is a progression in need of explanation, and it occurs over time scales much longer than the Biblical estimate of the earth’s age (somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 years, depending on whom you ask).

    Current evolutionary theory might not have it all explained, but it explains a huge amount, and based on the huge volume of data it is to be considered a theory in need of embellishment, not replacement.

    (Note on gaps in the fossil record: Say I find 2 fossils of different ages, and they look similar but not identical. Well, there’s a gap to fill. So let’s say I find something intermediate both in form and in age. Well, now there are 2 gaps to fill–The gap between the first and second, and between the second and third. The number of gaps is meaningless, the size of the gaps is what matters.)

    Note on radioactive dating: The most compelling argument for evolution would evaporate if somebody could prove that radioactive dating is deeply flawed, and that the age of fossils is on the order of thousands of years, not millions of years. However, this would require a drastic overhaul of nuclear physics, quantum mechanics, and statistical physics, an overhaul even more drastic than the quantum revolution of 100 years ago. More on that if somebody requests it.

  131. Pete, you seem to think Bin Laden sees Muslim countries as being “his side.” On the contrary, his movement is primarily one of civil war within the Muslim world.

  132. Joe, his intention was to unite the Muslim world under his banner. Everybody knows this.

  133. Ohio, being somewhere in the middle and thus insulated from rural and urban extremes, is if course far superior to anywhere else.

    Nonsense! Milwaukee, my hometown, is much better. Being a medium-sized city with a population not too far removed from the farm in many cases, and a nice blend of immigrants ranging from recent (just got in from Laos) to old (came here in the 1920’s and still running their ethnic bakery), plus lots of families who have been there since the beginning (you know, the mid 1800’s), we clearly have a more balanced perspective on life, the universe, and everything.

  134. Pete, uniting a world involves killing, discrediting, or overthrowing at least part of the current leadership. Sort of like the Soviets wanted to “unite the world.”

    The fact that uniting the Muslim world is a project he hoped to achieve should suggest to you that that world is not, in fact, united.

  135. Joe: You actually believe that by building a fence to prevent their women and children from being blown up by madmen Israel will increase hatred towards it? Israel has the military capability to wipe out these animals right now. It is only their adherence to human decency that prevents them from doing so. If America had to endure what they have we would have turned the whole area into a sea of radioactive glass.
    Did you ever turn your logic around just once and think about how your Islamofacist buddies may push Israel too far some day? Let them recruit all they want. They have stated their goals of genocide and world tyranny. Stand up, be counted, and prepare to meet your maker.

  136. The fact that uniting the Muslim world is a project he hoped to achieve should suggest to you that that world is not, in fact, united.

    Try as I might, I cannot figure out what point you’re trying to make.

    Joe, do ya think now that he’s hiding in a cave and has lost control of the sharia-based country he used to run, that he’s closer to his goal, or further away?

  137. Israel has the military capability to wipe out these animals right now. It is only their adherence to human decency that prevents them from doing so.

    When you say “wipe out these animals right now”, do you mean that Israel already knows the name and location of each terrorist? That would imply that the only reason Israel hasn’t already gone and arrested and/or killed each and every terrorist is some sort of mercy for the terrorists. I don’t think Israel would be foolish enough to show mercy for terrorists who go after civilians.

    Or do you mean that Israel has the ability to wipe out all of the Palestinians, thereby killing any and all terrorists on Israeli soil, along with a whole bunch of innocent people? That would be genocide, and you act as though it is somehow magnanimous or generous of Israel to not commit genocide. As a kid, when I said “I did all my chores!” or “I didn’t hit my brother!” my mother would say “What, should we give you a medal for doing what you’re supposed to do?”

  138. “You actually believe that by building a fence to prevent their women and children from being blown up by madmen Israel will increase hatred towards it?”

    How wonderfully ahistorical of you. To be brief, yes, I think it will be easy for Islamists to sell the concept of the wall as yet another assault by The Jews on persecuted Muslims. I’m supposed to take your opinion that it won’t be as representative of how the project will be perceived by people in the Middle East?

    My Islamofascist buddies. What a dipshit!

    Pete, let me try to put this in easily-grasped language: what has been done to Al Qaeda – the conquest of Afghanistan, the disruption of the global network, the possbile killing of Bin Laden – is helping us, and hurting our enemies. What has been done to Iraq, on the other hand, is completely irrelevant to Al Qaeda. Your rhetorical trick of lumping both projects together and saying “All in all, Bush’s policies have been bad for Al Qaeda” is silly. Look at it this way:

    1. Bush ordered an invasion of Afghanistan.

    2. Bush pushed for the No Child Left Behind Act.

    3. The invasion of Afghanistan hurt Al Qaeda.

    4. All in all, Bush’s actions have hurt Al Qaeda.

    Do we therefor conclude that the passage of NCLB Act hurt Al Qaeda? Substitute Iraq for education reform, and I’ve restated your argument.

  139. Well, yes, I think Iraq and Afghanistan are related, but in general, broad terms, and not in specific, literal, linear ones when you’re probably more comfortable dealing with.

    The general, broad terms are that the ME is a swamp of joblessness, high population growth rates, undifferentiated rage, and tyranny. All these things are incentives for people to seek solace in truth in religious fundamentalism of the sort that blew up our buidings and killed all those office workers a few years ago. Pushing the ME in the opposite direction, by giving the average Tarik on the street a say in his government and a sense of enfranchisement, giving him a better shot at a job, giving him access to non-state-controlled media, giving him interaction with the outside world (outside the fever swamp of ME politics), will, in the long term, provide the best remedy for Islamic extremism. I find that argument VERY compelling, as do a lot of other people. You may not. But don’t pretend the argument doesn’t exist.

    As for your conspiracy theorizing about “territorial grabs” and “oil grabs”, such idiotic statements are barely worth responding to. What, did Neil Bush buy up 300,000 acres of desert and build a ranch there? Did we nationalize their oil and give it to Exxon? You think we’re turning a frigging PROFIT on Iraq?! Our goal is to return sovereignty to Iraqis in the next 6 months. Personally, I think that’s way too fast, but there you go. In what sense of the word is this a “territorial grab”?

    Before I debate these insipid points any longer, I’d like you to tell me specifically, with details, what you mean by “territorial grab” and “oil grab”. Who’s grabbing what from whom, and what are your sources? Please try to avoid invoking the Freemasons, aliens, the Skull & Bones club, or a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world.

  140. It’s not really about the group one is counted as belonging to, moreso than it is about whether you still can utilize honesty & logic within that sphere or you’re just a mindless shill. Very few on either side seem to have this, whether “bible-thumping southern redneck” or “touchy-feely liberal elitist”. It takes a special type of person to look their own “interest group” in the eye and say “…ok, that one was bullshit, no”.

    As for a lesser-of-two-evils…honestly, who can say one exists anymore? It’s tax-and-spend + post-modern globalism vs borrow-and-spend + fear-mongering Daddy-Statism, if that’s our choice voting has become pointless.

  141. Will,

    What a narrow-minded, bigoted comment. You should get out more and relieve yourself of your ignorance. I’m a white, religious Southerner with a PhD in engineering from one of the top schools in the country — with one-degree of separation from Nobel winners in the sciences. Contrary to the Scientistic religio-mythology, there are many of us from prestigious schools with scientific and technical degrees who believe in God. What are your credentials?

    I’ve noticed that many people who appeal to science to defend their philosophical positions usually have no more than a caricature view of how science really works, not to mention a simplistic strawman vision of religion. Who’s really ignorant here?

  142. it’s funny to watch, now on a national level, non jews and non muslims argue about which group is more at fault for the clusterfuck in the middle east.

    does saying “fuck y’all motherfuckers” make me an anti-muslim racist or an anti-semite, or just a plain old religious bigot? especially if i don’t want to pay any of them anything. let god print the money, i need mine for investment purposes. πŸ™‚

  143. dhex –

    I don’t think it makes you anti-anything – in fact, it’s a pretty cogent description for libertarianism. But I think it does betray an unfortunate moral laziness.

  144. Pete, the conspiracy theories I mentioned are not my view of the war and its motivations, but are extremely common among the type of people who may be motivated to support Al Qaeda. I personally attribute it more to the idealistic “We’re going to save the Congolese from slavery” neocon outlook you describe. But in case you haven’t noticed, Tarik on the street brings his own preconceptions to the table, and the invasion of Iraq plays right into them.

  145. Thorley Winston at December 29,10:26 AM wrote:

    “And I would say…that Bush has done a satisfactory job.”

    Over the past three years, with inflation at record lows, U.S. government spending has increased by a massive 28.3% — with non-defense discretionary growth of 30.5% — producing the largest deficit in U.S. history and the highest rate of government growth since LBJ’s “Guns-and-Butter” combination of the Vietnam War and “Great Society.”

    During this time, President Bush has become the first U.S. president since James Garfield (serving only in 1881 until he was assassinated) and Millard Fillmore (1850-1853) NOT to have vetoed a SINGLE bill, with the result that we now have record pork spending and corporate welfare in agriculture, education, Medicare, energy, defense, transportation, foreign aid, homeland security, and more.

    U.S. government agencies have further more been given new powers to arrest and detain people indefinitely without charge, legal counsel, or trial; to secretly search anyone’s property; and to intercept phone, Internet, and other communications, as well as access health, financial, and other private records.

    Were this a Gore administration we would be in full revolt by now. Not that Dean or another dwarf, left to his or her own devices wouldn’t do as bad or worse. But clearly Bush is not our guy.
    It seems we will do better to spend our time working for a more conservative congress and getting them to vote that way even if (especially if) Bush is reelected.

  146. Rick-

    No matter what, you have to support the GOP and their Great Leader. They’re only expanding the size and scope of the government to become more popular. Once they’ve parlayed that popularity into an iron-clad grip on power they’ll DEFINITELY downsize the government. You can trust the GOP, because they’re from the government and they’re here to help.

    So remember, the GOP deserves our unconditional support. Don’t question their Big Government policies. It’s all a brilliant plan to get an ironclad grip on power right around the same time that the beast is too big to be sustainable any longer. Power will be consolidated at the same time that Big Government is so expensive that it has to be eviscerated.

    And there’s absolutely NOTHING that could go wrong with a plan that involves making the government as big as possible while politicians consolidate their grip on power. I repeat: NOTHING can go wrong when politicians spend more money to get more power.

  147. Not to be overly simplistic but, given that after Israel’s unilateral declaration of statehood the neighboring Arab states declared war, with the intention of “throwing them into the sea,” doesn’t Israel victory in that, and all subsequent conflicts, give them possession by victory of the land they claim to “own?” I mean didn’t the settlement of N. America do the same thing to the Amerindians that the Israelis have done to the Palestinians? Basically a case of, ‘We won the war, so up yours.’

  148. O.K., so there’s a lot of angry yelling going on here. I just have a few random thoughts myself:

    1. Halliburton – was not given the contract because of business ties, but because they had years of experience, contacts, and connections in building infrastructures in situations such as Iraq is in. Which would you prefer: rebuilding Iraq as soon as possible (which I believe was one of the demands of anti-war protesters), or drawing out the process for months while bidding occurs and then possibly having the contract go to a less-experienced company, all for the sake of “appearing fair”?

    2. I don’t know what the solution to the Israel-Palestine difficulties is. But there are stark differences between each nation’s approach to warfare. Palestine sends in a person to *kill as many people as possible*, whereas Israel retaliates with what is called just force, only killing combatants. Additionally, there is no law that says a nation *cannot* build a fence to keep people out – especially if those people want entrance so they can kill you. It demonstrates that Israelis are likely to depend less on treaties and good intentions now because doing so has only resulted in the deaths of more Israeli civilians. Sharon has a responsibility to prevent such from happening, just as it is Bush’s job (and Congress) to make sure that American citizens are not murdered in their homes or marketplaces. Additionally, *nobody* likes to be pushed out of their home, and it makes sense that Palestinians would be angry. But that does not excuse the indiscriminate slaughter of anybody found in Israel. While unfair and unjust things are done on both sides, I find that Palestine does not come out well in this particular area because they are not restraining their behavior to any form of decency or humanity. (And if you claim that they’re being decent by *not* destroying the Jews…. how *noble* you are.)

    3. Iraq – was not some random bugger we decided to bomb because it annoyed us. Bush did not wake up one day and say, “Dude! I can blow up a country! Cooool….” If you recall, Saddam signed a treaty in 1991 agreeing to certain terms in exchange for peace. That’s what happens at the end of a war when the parties agree to stop fighting. And one of the rules of treaty making and signing is that, if the loser party does not abide by the terms of the agreement (i.e. breaks the contract), then the terms of the peace treaty are no longer in effect. The victors can enforce a treaty by various means, up to and including brute force. This is a reality of life and it’s not going to change until men (and women….) no longer desire to have power over each other (which is the root cause of war, which then results in treaties that have to be honored). Saddam signed a peace treaty. He then refused to follow the terms of that treaty. If one side breaks the contract, neither side is bound by it. Therefore, after 12 years of diplomacy and sanctions and non-force methods had failed to enforce the treaty, someone finally stood up and said “We’ve given him enough chances. Let’s fix this problem now, rather than putting it off for someone else to deal with.” That takes guts. And intellectual honesty.

    4. About evolution v. creationism: I have a different view from the others presented above. Since “day” in Genesis is not identified by a certain length of time, all it indicates is that God worked on creation within certain time periods, divisible from each other in some sense. In a later chapter in Genesis, it’s written that Methuselah lived over 950 years, or “almost a day in the Lord’s reckoning”, so one might assume (though not with certainty – because I simply don’t *know*) that 1000 years of mortal life can equal 1 day in the Lord’s time. And, while I am amazed at the marvelous progress made in the sciences within the past 200 years, I recognize it does not explain everything, or even some things well. While I know there is some explanation for dinosaur and prehistoric fossil remains (beyond a cosmic joke – God does nothing without a reason), since I don’t know enough to explain it, I shall reserve any judgment on the matter until I know what God knows. πŸ™‚

    5. The accusation of ‘racist’ today carries the stigma that ‘Communist’ did in the 50s. It serves to deflect attention away from a debate of real facts and issues and toward ad hominem attacks on whether a person is “sensitive” enough about other groups. It hijacks debates and is a method of social terrorism. When I was growing up, my parents never talked to me about differnt races or groups and how to treat them. I was taught that each person is an individual, and that any opinion I form about them needs to be based in at least a general knowledge of that person’s prior actions and statements and current goals. But many other people find it easier to make blanket statements, and it occurs on the left as well as on the right. So until I see a person who claims to be “anti-racist/m” document accounts of racial prejudice where ever it occurs and not just in the cases of white prejudice against the “other”, don’t tell me you’re “anti-racism”. You’re just opposed to certain types of prejudice, not all types. That also requires intellectual honesty.

    6. That being said, disagreement with Israel’s policies is fine by me, so long as the disagreement is not based on hyperbolized statements and simplistic generalizations, as is the case in some of the posts above. Otherwise, it’s a perversion of humanism that defends the indefensible in the name of “fairness”.

    7. Finally, on a happier note – everyone go out and eat a donut. They make for happy tastebuds. It’s hard to get really angry while eating a Boston creme donut.

  149. thoreau,
    Ok; you’re right, I’ll just take my compliance pills and settle down. Actually, there are a lot of folks in the GOP who I like a lot better then their Great Leader.

  150. Rick

    How do you know? The settlement societies have a systematic policy of acquiring land, and some hard currencey. For obvious reasons, prices in this market are kinda depressed. Arabs who sell to Jews have little incentive to advertise, and settlement groups have reason to shield their identity– Pali sites are rife with references to “traitors”, and the PLO has killed more Arabs than Jews.

    The title to some of these lands are debateable– might be in refugee resettlement ares “owned” by the UN, and most Arab societies forbid transactions with Israel, anyway. But you tend to repeat the rhetoric of the PLO rather uncritically.

    Even land where Arabs do live is often owned by Jewish landlords. But every time a photo-journalist sees a bull-dozer we are apprised of a new “theft”.

  151. And one more note – if Shrub has expanded spending on gov’t programs more than any other president in recent history, than how can his critics accuse him of “rolling back the New Deal and the Great Society”? Seems to me that Dems are getting the gov’t spending they want, but they’re not happy because a Republican president will get the credit in the history books.

    And I think Bush is a man of strong principles and character; but he has made a couple grave errors, namely signing the Medicare bill and (much worse) the McCain-Feingold bill which is blatently un-Constitutional, no matter what the Supreme Court says. Everyone involved in passing and approving that bill has shirked their duty to uphold and defend the Constitution.

    ‘Nuff said.

  152. However, if one criticizes the policies of the Israeli government, that makes one an anti-Semite. Got it

    If you criticize Israel for doing something, while utterly ignoring the fact that other nations have done the same thing — usually much WORSE versions of the same thing, such as “slaughtering Palestinians” (Jordan, Syria), “oppressing Palestinians” (the whole Arab world) or “stealing it’s neighbor’s land” (Saudi Arabia, Russia, China, etc) — then it STRONGLY suggests that you have a disproportionate and largely unjustified hatred of Israel.

    Now certainly it is possible to have an unreasoning hatred of Israel, paired with a passive acceptance of far-worse nations, without it being an “anti-Semetism” thing. Sometimes it’s just an “anti-America” thing, and Israel gets tarred by association with us. But, usually, unreasoning hatred of the only Jewish state in the world is due to unreasoning hatred of Jews themselves.

  153. Sorry Becca, but I hate Boston Cremes. Now a cruller on the other hand . . .

  154. Rick-

    That’s the spirit! As long as you test positive for compliance pills you’re automatically ineligible to receive “enemy combatant status”, so in addition to being relaxed you’ll avoid the gulag!

    Seriously, there are a lot of Republicans that I prefer to the Great Leader. I just wish that more of them would show some spine and actually resist him when he tries to expand the size and scope of government. It’s always easy to grant more power when “the right people” are wielding it. It’s harder to remember that there is no “right person” who can be trusted with too much power, at least not if we want a free society.

  155. Rick, what we Westerners might think of as hateful, other cultures might think of as necessary. Interracial and interrelgious dating and marriages only became accepted within American culture within the past several decades. And you expect an embattled nation like Israel to have even more progressive views on marriage than we do?

    I am mystified by your insistance that Israel is guilty of crimes equal to Hitler’s, Stalin’s or Mao’s. Utterly baffled is more like it. It occurs to me that your incessant focus on evil, hateful Israeli actions is more of an article of faith than a tenet of reason; like you are so focused on proving Israel is not perfect that you have lost your ability to rationally evaluate facts.

    Fair reporting does not mean presenting two opposing sides as ultimately equivalent. Reporting one Israeli atrocity (as opposed to an unfairness or even an injustice – words have very distinct meanings) for every reported Palestinian atrocity IS NOT FAIR REPORTING the ratio is not 1:1. Is everything Israel does *right*? No; but given their circumstances, I am not inclined to condemn out of hand all that they do, especially since the wrongs they do PALE IN COMPARISON to the directionless, vengeful, bitter, rampant violence undertaken in the name of Palestine. THAT is why your arguments do not convince me.

  156. Rebecca:
    “but (Bush) has made a couple grave errors, namely signing the Medicare bill and (much worse) the McCain-Feingold bill which is blatently un-Constitutional, no matter what the Supreme Court says.”

    Right on! And Bush not only signed the Medicare bill, he fought tooth and nail for it! But give great credit to the conservative Republicans in the congress who voted against it.

    ” Dems are getting the gov’t spending they want, but they’re not happy because a Republican president will get the credit in the history books.”

    Or, will it be blame?

    Also; do you have a low carb. suggestion? I predict that keeping insulin levels low will prove to be on par with fighting free radicals for maintaining good health.

  157. I am impressed with the intelligence level of most of the posters here. There is a great book I would recommend to all of you called “Why Americans Hate Politics.” The book basically describes how our 2 party system promotes extremism and forces people to “cause-link”, which means they find themselves forced into supporting an entire party-line, when they don’t feel they should have to. Smart people, especially in more social environments as opposed to dark living rooms with nothing but CNN or Fox News playing on TV, therefore, tend to get sick of politics or, at least, of political partisanship in others.

    Because you should be aware of how the forced polarization of American politics causes two silly camps to exist where “followers” are expected to agree on all issues, all of you intellectuals should find yourself disagreeing with both Bush and Dean on some major issue or another. Otherwise, I can guarantee that you don’t think, read or get around much.

    Meanwhile, those donuts are good, aren’t they?

    Now, having established the above, lets look at how most of you are ignoring several major elephants in the closet of American politics:

    The 300 pound gorilla in almost any American’s view of “Christianity” is what the Bible supposedly says about SEX! While hypocritical married people often feel secure in a conservative environment where they know that nobody else is having any fun, its because of supposed restrictions on sex that most young single people turn their back on the church…and I don’t blame them. The trouble is, the Bible never actually states that premarital sex is prohibited. It only says in Deuteronomy 22:13 that a woman can be stoned to death if she passes herself off as a virgin in order to get a husband.

    That is a 4000 year old law that Jesus basically overturned in John 4:14 when he begins showing kindness, friendship and non-judgementalism toward various single women with active sex lives. But organized Christianity, especially the Baptist and Presby variety in the Red States, seems to want to be more prude than Jesus!

    Now Howard Dean said something yesterday that should be the #1 issue in his campaign if he wants to really pierce the soft underbelly of the post-911 Republican movement and the organized church: he stated that Bush is blindly and ideologically supporting abstinence-only programs for teenagers when this is entirely unhelpful for teenagers who have already made up their minds to have sex (at least when they turn 18 and well before they are married).

    Is this issue more important than national security? Nope. But if Dean could be even a little bit credible on national security, he would have my vote and those of most single males who don’t want women graduating from high school with anti-sex attitudes.

    Like duh! Ask any “South Park Republican” if he gets upset about condom distribution in high schools. Think about it. Why would a single male cut off his nose to spite his face by supporting chastity in females??

    It was because of the Democrats support for premarital sex that, pre-1968, most Democrats were male and most Republicans were female. The premarital sex “issue” is still the major reason why any male like myself would turn his back on the Republicans.

    So why have the Democrats forgotten their #1 constituency (single males)? Because the Democrats were dumb enough in 1968 to start taking the wrong side on an issue that remains the second biggest 300 lb gorilla in American politics: the fact that the Americans will always cherish their role in overthrowing evil dictators, liberating billions of people over the past 60 years and keeping the world safe for business (and democracy which creates bigger markets).

    Now, one can argue that the 1968 opposition to the specific war in Vietnam was made by precisely those males who wanted to enjoy their newfound sexual freedoms at that time. When young men of the sixties were faced with choosing between their love for liberating people on the other side of the Earth and fighting the “values” of the kind of Republican men who would teach their daughters not to have sex with them, of course the young men chose to fight the Republicans. Priorities are priorities!

    Why would I fight and die for the right to be rejected for wanting sex?

    Never mind that 3 million innocent people were murdered by communists after the US pulled out of Indochina. At least we had our sexual revolution!
    And we reversed the pollution of our rivers as well. Because of polarized politics, we had to sacrifice decency in foreign affairs for improved domestic attitudes about sex and the environment.

    Fast forward 35 years…past a derailed “feminist” movement in which women were taught not only to want sex (which was good if it meant with a nice guy like me), but to not need men at all and to have entire relationships on their own terms, not the male’s. We now see a society where even right wing Christian women hold to the left wing belief that a woman should tell a man “it’s my way or the highway.” We see a society where single males were already turning toward the Republicans in the 1990s because the Democrats seemed to be supporting a world where the white heterosexual male was not seen as someone for a woman to look up to and try to marry.

    Then 9-11 happened, which completed the trend toward single males being Republican. Now, in the war on terror, we single males have been faced with something much more serious than keeping southeast Asia free…while realizing that we are dealing with a President who seems determined to convince as many teenage girls as possible to wait until they are married!

    Horrors!! What to do?

    Well, we’d gladly vote for a guy like Clinton or Dean who are into premarital sex (Clinton was even into extra-marital sex but the Bible actually condemns that so I won’t go there).

    But Dean says he wouldn’t have liberated Iraq! That will lose him the election with a 100% guarantee. More than 60% of the American population instinctively knows the 7 major reasons why we liberated Iraq. Iraq should be a non-issue in this election, just as McClellan should not have made the Civil War an issue in the 1864 election.

    Now we know that Dean actually did support going to war in Iraq before the war happened (if France would have agreed to it). He is obviously only now saying that he was against the war in order to shore up a leftist base that he probably secretly disrespects more than he does conservatives. We know that Dean would gladly invade Iran or Syria if he were made President next November…so I wouldn’t mind his getting elected.

    But I cannot stand his dishonesty in pretending that he was against the Iraq War!

    Dean ignores the 300 lb gorilla in American politics. So we need someone like Hillary to come out and blow his sorry butt away…before turning on Bush regarding his wanting to teach women not to have premarital sex with us guys. πŸ™‚

    Any “Christian” single guys out there who think they are more Christian than I am and disagree with me? Face it: any political party that actively courted the vote of the single male, would reign supreme for a century. I wonder if I should run as an Independent with the following platform:

    Support of everything Bush has done on foreign policy, but critical changes regarding education and the environment. I would retain the entire cabinet except the anti-sex types whom I’d make a public example of by firing…and I would promise to keep the Bush family totally involved in advising me on foreign policy (and even making phone calls on my behalf).

  158. By the way, noting above how the liberals are UNNECESSARILY driving themselves over a cliff on the Iraq War issue, lets look at the 7 major reasons why even truck drivers and hair dressers know we had to liberate the Iraqis:

    Assuming that everyone understands that we had to undercut Muslim support for Sunni Wahhabism after the 9-11 attacks…Bush decided, correctly, to..

    1) Reverse 1000 years of Sunni dominance in Mesopotamia in order to permanently put a stop to any dreams that there will be a Sunni Caliphate based in Baghdad and transcending the Muslim world and controlling the world’s oil (and thus the world itself). With the Iraq War, Bush accomplished what the Crusades could not do: he gave freedom loving Arabs their freedom (which they basically have now under our necessary and temporary occupation which frees them from the chaos of a civil war between the Shiites and the Sunnis). This marks the worst defeat that “despotic Islam” has ever suffered and the worst defeat that the Sunnis have ever suffered against the Shiites. It makes Osama look like a weakling, the worst loser in Muslim history. It speaks volumes about the kind of catastrophe that comes as punishment for attacking even one American skyscraper. And it cannot be reversed because it involves the large masses of Arabs themselves. Over 95% of Iraqis, including many of the 1% who try to kill Americans, want democracy and the tide is inevitable now that Bush has turned it irreversibly. The “Tipping Point” will be reached when the Iranians have their revolution hopefully soon and with CIA help. Then the free Shiites will be up against the enchained Sunnis…which will cause the Sunni people to rise up against their oppressors (Arafat, non-reforming-dictators and Islamists). This is why Qaddafi wants to be best friends with Bush now. This is why the Saudi Royal Family are finally our real friends again. And that is why Syria’s Assad is warning the Palestinians not to blow up any more buses or restaurants because the fate of Syria depends ENTIRELY now on whether another bus bomb explodes in Israel or not.

    2) Clarify not only where WMDs are and work to get rid of them (many are in Syria now and Libya itself was probably running Iraq’s nuke program with Iraqi scientists), but also make sure that the people of Baghdad would be spared from any necessary retaliation if Bush had to destroy Arab civilization in the event of a WMD attack on an American city. This point is lost on most anti-war types, but Bush is actually doing even anti-democracy Muslims a favor by removing the need for certain Muslim cities to be retaliated against in such an event. I love Moscow and St. Peterburg in Russia more than any American city…but I understand why those two cities were targeted as “hostages” in the Cold War. The main reason why we have not been attacked since 9-11 is because Bush keeps saying to the bad guys “explode even one car bomb in the USA and we will have Arafat killed and we will increase the tempo of the inevitable democratization and dismantling of your empire”. The second reason why we have not been attacked since 9-11 is because our enemies believe that leftists can actually get Bush defeated in November 2004.

    So we are not only going after WMD production (I am sure our Spec Ops have already secured the Libyan situation leaving behind just a formality for UN inspectors to deal with). But we are putting Arab cities into our camp and thus safe from our own nukes if we ever need to use them in the case of, for instance, a suitcase nuke going off in New York.

    3) Securing the oil in the Middle East is less about profit for American firms than about keeping such profit out of the hands of our enemies and rivals for world power. Leftists cannot understand this concept…or they do understand it but they are nihilists. That being said, direct control over Middle East oil (either the way we’ve been doing it by supporting dictators or the way we plan to do it by being loved by grateful Shiite populations) will keep our economy the strongest in the world. Going forward, there is nothing wrong with that unless you are a nihilist.

    4) Humiliate the left wing and gut out the soft underbelly of leftist foreign policy nonsense in the minds of people world-wide while converting a generation of new journalists into being more conservative. This is important: during World War Two and after, journalists could always say that the world had “fought the Nazis” and freed the world to be liberal. But now, they have to take a cold hard look at how they’ve been the most opposed to freedom for billions of people who’ve been liberated (mostly by the Bush family) since 1989. The Leftist anti-war crowd (and the right wing anti-Bosnian peacekeeping crowd) has been consistently proven wrong since 1989. A success in Iraq, especially an ensuing revolution in Iran, would lose the left wing most of its clientele around the world…especially amongst poor people in the third world. They know this. Bush knows this. And the best thing about making the Iraq War a war against leftism…it also causes our enemies to try to play in our politics which results in few major terror attacks and only the planned targeting of 1 or 2 of our soldiers per day in Iraq.

    Let the leftists like Joe and Whit understand something clearly: Dean’s rise depends like a vampire on 1 soldier per day getting killed in Iraq. Our enemies know this and are obliging Dean by doing the killing for him. Every dead soldier in Iraq is directly related to the our enemies’ desire to influence the American election next November. If you want our soldiers to live, you will want Hillary to stop the Dean madness this winter and let the election get decided over real issues while “united we stand” otherwise. But this might cause terrorists to adopt a different strategy involving WMDs against American civilians. So the lesser of two evils will be to allow Dean to “oppose the war” and encourage our enemies to try to kill one soldier per day (while we kill off 200 per day of their guys and recruit idiots from across the Arab world to come and die in Iraq by the busload).

    Be sure that we are recruiting Al Qaeda ourselves in order to liquidate them by the busload as they come across the border in the vehicles we secretly provided for them.

    5) Iraqi liberation is a good thing in of its own.

    6) Iraqi liberation cuts off financial support for Arafat (and oil to an anti-American Syria) and shows the Palestinians a better way for them to view the world. This will bring about an expected assassination (they will say he died last night of cancer) of Arafat by Palestinians themselves, which is the only way to peace with Israel. Arafat is desperate for cash at the moment. His end is near. He only still lives because he is Bush’s hostage against terror in America. But we can get a new hostage somewhere else if need be.

    7) The Iraq War put a stop to the emergence of a powerful EU by highlightinbg to the Eastern Europeans and other non-French speakers, that they would have ended up under the legal control of France. Germany is now a very conservative country and their press has seriously lightened up on Bush in the past 6 months. The war’s success will also force the UN to reform in America’s favor and isolate France (stop it from becoming the new Soviet Union against us).

  159. Okay, here’s a link to an article that further explains what I mean from #2 of my earlier novel:

    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/dp20031230.shtml

    And ye heathen who speak against the Boston creme donut – I shall bomb your pitiful little cities. Bwahahahaha!!!!!

  160. Rick– what exactly is “illegal” about Israeli settlements on the West Bank? Much of the land, probably most of it, was purchased by settlers in market-place transactions. Some land may have been conferred by the Israeli govt. from public land seized from, say, the Jordanian authority (but even then, it’s not so different from various land-grants of the US govt. in our history). Some land may have been abandoned by refugees– but there has to be some kind of limit on such claims (the settlers are using the land, and that creates a strong presumption in common law).

    Now I know the Jordanians, the UN and the PA see this otherwise (rather!)– they don’t feel the Israeli govt had the right to sanction the land sales, much less make bequests. And US policy has been to side with them in this.

    But why would that cut any ice with YOU? What is sacred about either the US or UN take on this? How did you decide this. The settlers are not idlers, and the whole context appears pretty murky. How do Somali warlords confer ptoperty rights?

  161. Good one Rebecca. Not that the source would ever be looked at by the likes of Rick Barton. Yep, the mullahs of Iran would rather see the residents of the Bam earthquake die of exposure in the rubble rather than accept any help from Israel. You have to be either delusional or evil to ignore the depth and breadth of this hatred. Which one are you, Rick?

  162. Andrew,
    All most all the settlement property has simply been stolen from the Palestinians, in many cases their homes destroyed. Where in the world did you get?:

    “Much of the land, probably most of it, was purchased by settlers in market-place transactions”

  163. Rebecca:

    To the last (crumb), I will grapple with thee. From Hell’s heart (the birthplace of Krispy Kreme), I stab at thee. For hate of (non-Krispy Kreme doughnuts), I spit my last breath at thee.

    Otherwise, interesting post.

  164. Rebecca,
    Nothing rulers do in Iran justifies the occupation. Prager’s piece was not even handed. It could have listed at least one hateful action of the Israeli government such as the mixed marriage impediment law. law:http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/01/international/middleeast/01MIDE.html?ex=1072933200&en=b3bdb3489e181def&ei=5070

  165. Mike Mangan:
    The people of Israel are endangered by their government’s inhumane, thieving, occupation of Palestinian land that our government pays for. Your first and last sentences expose the fact that you don’t know much about the whole issue, although that doesn’t seem to stop you from expressing your ignorance quite vociferously.

  166. Dean might be better off trying to appeal to leftist voters. I don’t really see how he can win conservative Christians. It’s just a bit silly, really.

    Dean must be doing something right. He at least SOUNDS like a leftist. At least the voters will have a choice between the two candidates in 2004. Too many politicos sounds alike these days.

    Dean has raised an astronomical amount of cash. So he is appealing to someone. A lot of someones. Did anyone thing George Bush Sr. could lose to a nobody named Bubba? Nope. But he did. Don’t count anyone out in politics.

    πŸ™‚

  167. But why go after Israel? Other states do hideous things as well. Because; the Israeli government does them with our money! Israel is our number one foreign aid budget item. . Sharon is asking the Bush administration for $4 billion in grants, in addition to $8 billion in commercial-loan guarantees. This would be in addition to the nearly $3 billion that Israel already receives each year.

    Egypt was bought off for Israel in 1979 and the total US tax dollar aid for that thug regime is now up to $1.85 billion a year; the number two spot. Israel’s peace with Jordan currently costs US tax payers $.5 billion a year.

  168. MR. Peterson – You have many excellent points and explanations in your two above posts – but I sincerely hope you are being facetious about white males and their displeasure with female chastity. However, I am responding as if you truly hold those views.

    Most of the young over-sexed men I have met would much prefer to marry a “girl next door” and not one who gives up her favors to lusty young men. Id est, they may hope to get “lucky” on a date or night out, but when it comes to family, they would prefer a woman who waited rather than a woman who was “liberated”. There are women men date, and there are women men marry, as one man said. (He was a jerk, too, but that’s besides the point.) Additionally, these callow youths who think with their groins grow up to raise daughters of their own. These fathers then jealously guard their daughters against young men like they (the fathers) used to be because they want their daughters to be treated WITH RESPECT and consideration. That is why free-love nuts of the 60s are becoming Republicans (as well because now they *have* money and they no longer think it fair for the government to redistribute it to other people).

    Secondly, do not confuse Divine love – agape – with simple approval. Christ showed that a sinner should not be hated, that even those guilty of serious sins should be treated with dignity and forgiven if contrite. He did NOT say that there were no rules. He told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee. Now go thy way and SIN NO MORE.” He also said he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Picking one scripture here and one scripture there to show that the Bible does not “explicitly condemn” something is missing the point of the law. Sex is not confined to marriage between a man and a woman because it is *bad* – it is so regulated because it is *good*, and very powerful. It is one of the ways that man and woman become “one flesh” – the metaphor of marriage. Sexual intimacy is not a free-for-all pleasure fest, either – it has a rather beneficial side-effect of producing babies. And babies have the right to be born into a stable family with a father and a mother to nurture and provide for and teach them.

    Premarital sex is discouraged not because “someone might have fun” but because those moments of fun often lead to years of pain and regret. (And honestly, if all people can do to have “fun” is have sex or get drunk, they have a very limited social life and no intellectual creativity.) Also, many couples who do not wait to have sex tend to break up before marrying or divorce soon after marriage, which is painful for all people involved and hardest on the children. The willingness to commit one’s *entire self* to a spouse – even without knowing who that spouse is [i.e. chastity before marriage] – prepares one more fully for the challenges and joys of a commited lifetime relationship.

    As for myself, I am an active member in the church I grew up in, considered by some to be one of the most “restrictive,” “oppressive,” and patriarchal of existing religions. But the metaphor is more like flying a kite than languishing in chains. A kite sails high in the air, and goes as high as you have string for it. But surely it would fly EVEN HIGHER if only it weren’t chained so cruelly to the ground, wouldn’t it? Cut its strings and let it loose! And it plummets to the ground – because it has NO ANCHOR. That is how moral laws work – they serve as an anchor, a solid foundation on which to base decisions; the lessons of thousands of years of painful experience. Because I obey those rules, I may suffer short-term frustration but no long-term sorrow. Ultimately I am free because I am not weighed down by unnecessary sorrow and years of aimless wandering.

    Finally, there are many young people who do not know whether they should have sex or not – frankly, they’re too immature to make that decision on their own – and they’re looking for someone to tell them what they should do. In the absence of someone telling them “Thou shalt not,” they hear “Do what you will, only use a condom.” Teenagers and young adults are more inclined to have sex when there is no prohibition against it; but if they are encouraged *not* to have sex, then it sharply reduces the rates of unwanted pregnancies, of STDs, and of emotional turmoil. How is that a bad thing?

  169. “Consider the demographic Dean’s trying to target: White, conservative, religious Southerners… it’s not exactly a group that’s known for it’s smarts.”

    Do tell. Even this white, conservative, religious Southerner knows that ‘it’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’ and that ‘its’ is the possessive form of the pronoun ‘it’. Tell me again how ignorant I am…..

  170. Rick Barton wrote that Pres Bush all but “put targets on our backs” by supporting Israel, thereby presumably triggering terrorist attacks against Americans. Barton’s statement contains two unquestioned presuppositions. First, it presupposes a double standard of selectively condemning Israeli violence while excusing Palestinian violence. Second, it assumes that the war on terrorism is 100% explainable by reference to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. At best, Barton’s statement is a gross and hypocritical oversimplification. At worst, it’s Nazi-style scapegoating.

  171. Awesome, Jim, just awesome. Just remember, I said “soft underbelly” first. Heh.

  172. I respect Rebecca’s personal decision to save herself for marriage, but I would surmise that her chastity is less a function of being a “Christian” than of some other psychological need to avoid intimacy with men. Remember that there is a giant “Straight Edge” movement in the punk rock scene which values chastity. Also, I went to a progressive left hot springs resort here in California last weekend and found that heterosexual males were not allowed to talk with women at the facility, but women were allowed to meet and make out with women in front of everybody else. The leftists and the punk rockers all want their “anchors” too…and that anchor seems to be to avoid a healthy hetero dating scene.

    Now you may say that chaste “Christians” actually can have a healthy dating life. In theory, yes, but I dated two fundamentalist Christian California women in the past three months…and I have to say it was a nightmare to even know them. They were the least human of anyone I have ever come to know. I have spoken with a lot of men on the issue of dating “Christian” chaste women and here is what they have to day:

    First of all, they didn’t see males as equals. Too many chaste women view men as the enemy…or at least feel themselves prepared at a moment’s notice to reject the Christian male they are dating if he

    1) puts his hand under her shirt while kissing on the third date – even if she likes it at the time, she can reject him in retrospect for leading her into that situation.

    2) talks about where in the Bible premarital sex is prohibited. Many fundamentalists do not want to be confronted with Bible facts just like many Far Left liberals don’t want to be confronted with historical facts.

    2) talks about sex in a manner in which she is supposed to respond intellectually as if it is a subject that one is allowed to talk about.

    2) God forbid, he asks her to sleep with him! That permits her in American fundie society to get her father to order a restraining order on the male.

    It gets even worse than this in Bush’s new America, Rebecca: there are now books out in the churches that beseech young people to not “date” at all! I was going to drive to Thousand Oaks over Christmas and asked a Christian woman who’d really liked me if I could drop by and have lunch with her in Santa Barbara. She responded that we needed to get to know each other at least another month by email before she would be ready for an actual “date.” She revered the word “date” like it was “marriage”.

    I didn’t like that and tried to criticize in an email back to her. She wrote back that I had made her cry and that she was sorry that I was “on the other side of the fence” and never wanted to hear from me again.

    Then there is the problem of feminist “Christians” who dislike men.

    Basically, the Bible doesn’t say that women must make the rules in a relationship either.

    So, yes Rebecca, chastity is fine between two Christians dating…as long as the issue doesn’t extend to “overnighting” and “heavy petting” and even “dating” itself. In todays society, two chaste people can be in a healthy relationship as long as there is some kind of major heavy petting allowed and the woman is NOT the only one who is in charge of making the “rules”. Because too much sexual repressiveness in modern society is less a sign of love for God as it is a sign of psychological disturbance. We normal people need to take back our churches.

    And Howard Dean is correct to say that Bush is wrong to be abusing our tax dollars by teaching abstinence only ideologies to teenagers who come from families who completely disagree with the idea of chastity.

    hope that your attitude

  173. Why, thank you for calling me psychologically disturbed! I’ve always needed some special moniker. πŸ™‚

    Now I know that those *are* your views – that a Christian woman who reserves sexual matters for marriage is repressed and psychologically disturbed. That’s an easy way to describe people who don’t give you what you want. Part of dating for Christians like me is getting to know the person and seeing if he respects me and my wishes. There is no place I have read of where the woman makes the relationship rules, but then, neither is the man supposed to dominate that, either. Power corrupts, in any person. Relationship matters are supposed to be openly and respectfully discussed by both members, because both are involved. Makes sense to me.

    If sex is important to you, don’t date a fundamentalist Christian who holds sex for marriage. Period. Date people whose life views are more in tune with your own. However, fundamentalists make up only a small part of any religion (and yes, many of their notions can be very off-putting or horribly misguided, sometimes even destructive). But many people have very good reasons for being chaste, for waiting for marriage, and therefore there must be a better explanation than mental defect.

    I do know that there are feminists who look down on men, and there are well-meaning, non-‘feminist’ women who look on men with long-suffering contempt, like they would look on a young puppy who makes a mess in the house. I do not. Men are no worse than women, nor better. Each sex has their own general strengths, and men and women together make a beautiful balancing act of personalities and skills. I have great respect for men and their capacities – do you have such respect for women? Beyond their sexual abilities, I mean?

  174. Rebecca, JP did not say that you were disturbed. He started by saying he respected your choice, but opined that there MAY be another reason behind that choice. He then expounded on possible explanations that were anecdotally found in similar situations of which he had varying degrees of experience. You commented that neither party in a relationship should dominate, and you are correct. But if a chaste woman will not even suffer the subject to be broached, how is that equality? And, if there is to be no discussion of her beliefs, how is a man supposed to understand her position, or her for that matter? I hesitate to say she should defend her position, but at the very least she should be able to articulate it beyond the, “because I said so,” stage. You certainly seem able to do this, so why is it unreasonable to expect it of others?

  175. I think AJMB’s defense of Jim Petersen’s response to Rebecca is amusing. He acts like Petersen gave a reasonable response to Rebecca.
    When actually he implied that her values system indicated an inability to have a “healthy” relationship with a man.

    He then stated that the chaste women were he had dated were some of the “least human” he knew. This is very insulting, but also very vague. I he behaved with them the way he behaved with the woman in SB, they might have some doubts about HIS humanity.

    He and his friends complain that Christian women object to:

    1) sticking their hands under the shirt on the third date. Gee. Why would they object to heavy sexual advance to someone they still barely know when they’ve already informed them that they want to wait until marriage. Should’t there at least be a ring involved you attempt to get under he clothing?

    2) discussing where in the bible premarital sex is forbidden. Somehow I don’t think these guys are actually interested in having a discussion on the merits. Anymore than a spammer wants to listen to arguments why chain letters and/or spamming is illegal.

    If you really want scriptural citation for chastity, here are few examples:

    “I adjure you daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and hinds of the field,
    Do not arouse, do not stir up love before it is time.” (Song of Solomon 2:7, also 3:5 and 8:4)

    The Song of Soloman generally considered on of the more sexually explicit parts of the bible. In it the bride repeated celebrates that he has saved herself for her husband. She also boasts that she has been a wall not a door.

    So there you go, a biblical example of a scriptural call to chastity.

    It’s true that Jesus changed some things. Jewish laws on sexual conduct tend to be much more lenient for men. Jesus closed this loophole.

    “But I say to uou, eveyone who looks at woman with lust has already commited adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.” (Mt 5:28,29)

    I could go on but this is a “Reason” board, and lengthy discussions on the bible probably make some of the posters wiggy.

    second 2) I’m not sure what constitutes intellectulal sex talk. But I see nothing in Mr. Petersen’s posts that indicates it’s anything other than a prelude to getting her clothes off.

    Finally, he complains that some Christians are against dating altogether. Given that the structure of the modern date is as a prelued to sex, one can see why. (Jerry Seinfeld once compared dating to a job interview where you could be naked at the end.)

    The example Petersen gives however shows a lot about his character. He wanted to hook up with a woman he basically knew from the internet. She insisted she wasn’t ready and wanted to know him a little better. Given that women have been sexually assaulted and murdered by people they met online, it seems a little precaution is only natural. But no, he take offense a practically pronounces the woman a sexual cripple.

    Scott Petersen’s basic premise is that a woman who won’t put out is mentally disturbed. I can’t see how that makes him anything more that a callow creep.

  176. Excellent, CJ. Thank you. Cookie for you.

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