Friday, August 11, 2006

Focus on Your Own Family

Right-wing political sect masquerading as "Christian" group gets the heave-hoe from Atlanta Braves' Faith Day.

Hate is Not a family value.

Every Decent Person

Every decent person in the world condemns a plot that would purposely kill innocents from many countries for no reason imaginable in a sane world.

Divorced from its context, it might not be immediately discernible of what plot or of which innocents the writer of the above paragraph was speaking. At a minimum the plot against innocents could refer to Iraq or the Israeli-Lebanon conflict, among other current hot spots.

In actuality, the quote is from Reed Hundt at TPM Cafe and refers to the recent arrests in Great Britain of 19 or so reputed Islamic terrorists of English citizenship but of Pakistani descent who, we're told, were in the final stages of a hideous scheme to blow up 9 or 10 airplanes headed to America.

Unlike the terror alarms that went up briefly two months ago about a reported Muslim terrorist group operating out of Miami and planning to bomb the Chicago Sears Tower, the group arrested in Great Britain appears to have been the real thing.

But back to this post's lead 'graph. Hundt is correctly outraged by the barbarism exposed in this plot and relieved the gangsters were caught before they could do any real damage. At the same time, as the civilian death toll in Lebanon approaches or exceeds 1,000, I can't help but think that many in the Middle East would apply Hundt's statement to themselves, their countrymen, and religious comrades.

Naturally, many of us in the West would be quick to point out that Israeli and U.S. attacks in Lebananon and Iraq, respectively, did not and do not target innocents, and are thus manifestly different, morally, than the designs of Muslim terrorists in Great Britain and throughout the world.

But I sense that this is a distinction meant primarily for Western domestic consumption, and a distinction completely lost on the Middle East mass public. The blurred line between the strategies and motivations is compounded by Western thought leaders who engage in morally relativistic talk about redefining the term "civilian" to exclude targeted populations that happen to live near and among Western enemies, such as Hezbollah, or those "innocents" who can be demonstrated as having at least a peripheral sympathy for, or allegiance to, the attacked, even if the sympathy and allegiance is forged in the context of their own destruction.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006



Not the smashing victory I was hoping for. It gave Joementum! an excuse to carry on with his "independent" campaign, although maybe Corporate Joe didn't care about the margin or the primary in any event. Anyway, now, as Matt Taibbi forecasted:

"...Lieberman's crowning insult—and perhaps his last fatal mistake as an (ostensible) member of the Democratic Party—was his recent decision to register and run as an independent in case he loses the primary to Lamont. Finally taking his mask off and revealing himself as a baldly self-interested political creature, this final-act version of Lieberman plans on dying hard, forcing liberal voters to kill him twice in the same movie, like Jason in Friday the 13th."

And how about Corporate Joe's concession/full steam ahead, primary voters be damned speech? Much like the rantings of his Washington buddies and DLC enablers, it was devoid entirely of anything resembling substance, just some platitudes about creating a new politics of non-partisanship after the guy's been in DC for the last two decades. Blah blah blah.

I know there are a lot of people on the Internets who think Lamont's victory tonight is miraculous. And I am cheered. Really. But the truth is, if Democratic primary voters can't get rid of a guy like Joe Lieberman in a liberal state like CT, I don't know what the future holds.

I do have a few words of advice for Ned as he seeks to beat Lieberman for a second time--keep the outta staters off the stage. Was there a reason CT voters needed to see media hounds like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson out there tonight? I don't care about their race. One of the big criticisms of Corporate Joe is/was his out of touchness with the people of his state. Ned, don't let Corporate Joe come off like the regular guy in the general election by letting the self promoters hog the spotlight. They work for you, not you for them.

OK, enough said. A long night. The netroots can claim a temporary victory. And I can go to sleep. Finally.

Meet the Wall Street Journal Democrats

You've met the Fox News Democrats. Now meet the Wall Street Journal Democrats. Hint: sometimes they're the very same people. See if you can match them.

1. Senator Joe Lieberman, please step up:

It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril (November, 2005).

2. Marty Peretz, Editor in Chief, The New Republic:

We have been here before. Left-wing Democrats are once again fielding single-issue "peace candidates," and the one in Connecticut, like several in the 1970s, is a middle-aged patrician, seeking office de haut en bas, and almost entirely because he can. It's really quite remarkable how someone like Ned Lamont, from the stock of Morgan partner Thomas Lamont and that most high-born American Stalinist, Corliss Lamont, still sends a chill of "having arrived" up the spines of his suburban supporters simply by asking them to support him. Superficially, one may think of those who thought they were already middle class just by being enthusiasts of Franklin Roosevelt, who descended from the Hudson River Dutch aristocracy. But when FDR ran for, and was elected, president in 1932, he had already been a state senator, assistant secretary of the Navy and governor of New York. He had demonstrated abilities (August, 2006).

3. Lanny Davis, former Special Council to President Clinton, and former frat brother of President Bush, and currently serving on President Bush's "privacy board", along side Ted Olson, anti-Clinton lawyer extraordinaire:

My brief and unhappy experience with the hate and vitriol of bloggers on the liberal side of the aisle comes from the last several months I spent campaigning for a longtime friend, Joe Lieberman (August, 2006).

Meet the Wall Street Journal Democrats. Same as the Fox News Democrats.

Are you a Democrat who hates Democrats and democracy generally? Don't just do Fox News. The Wall Street Journal is soliciting essays for use as potential op-ed columns. Our rich, conservative Republican readership especially enjoys reading opinion pieces by Democrats criticizing other Democrats. Note: competitive entries must really savage other Democrats, especially close to election time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Sharing the Despair

Bilmon has been getting some grief for what some feel is his overly-pessimistic tone, in posts like these for example. And I think Bilmon's wrong to downplay the impact a Democratic executive, a branch or two of Congress and Democratic appointments to the courts could have in at least helping to slow the march towards American theocracy and authoritarianism, at least for a time while we hope saner minds prevail.

But I have to admit I've been sharing the Whiskey Bar's mood these days. Take for example, Joe Lieberman, and his enablers in the press and pundit world. I've tried to downplay Lamont's prospects tomorrow, but even I'd forgotten just what a real cancer on the body politic Joe Lieberman is until I read these essays by Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone. And the truly sad thing is, Lieberman is probably not even the worst of the bunch. And maybe Lamont will prove no better over time, should he win tomorrow. As Bilmon points out, Lamont at the very least share's Lieberman's and the conventional U.S. view on the Lebanon-Israel conflict. So how different he'd be relative to the general level of silliness that's going on now concerning U.S. and the neocon's posturing towards Syria and Iran, and their defense of presidential signing statements and NSA wiretaps, etc, I don't know.

But along side of the problem presented by corruption and hypocrisy in Congress, it also seems to be the case that the fever pitch being worked up by neo conservative agitators in Washington and by their supporters in right-wing evangelical pulpits is, despite the abundance of counteracting evidence shining brightly from the Fiasco in Iraq, if anything only increasing.

And although I felt it necessary to slightly poo-pah Glenn Greenwald's essay on neo-conservatism and realignment a few weeks ago, basically everything that's gone on since then has only buttressed his view that a new alignment hinging on neo-conservative international politics is driving and shaping our national politics, subverting at least for a time, even the hot-button domestic issues like abortion, gay rights, etc that have been so prominent even throughout the first years of the Iraqi excapade.

Thus it has been highly ironic to hear from Joe Lieberman and his supporters the complaint that Democrats shouldn't oppose Lieberman based on his vote for the Iraq war. While this canard has been dispensed with by other commentators, I think Digby's post here on the nature of the opposition to Joe Lieberman probably captures it as well as any:

"This article lays out all the gripes that Connecticut, a liberal state, has against old Joe and it's quite an indictment. But what it comes down to is that he's always tried to have it both ways. He rhetorically reinforces all the destructive GOP memes, hedges his bets on important votes and even though (like most politicians) he generally votes with the party he's effectively working for the other side a good part of the time. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that being a member of the minority party in the Senate for most of his career means that he's had a lot of free votes that don't mean diddly.

Rhetoric, on the other hand, is one of the few powers a minority party has as it tries to persuade the country to come over to their side and put the opposition on the spot. Helping the majority make its case is one of the most destructive things Joe does. Democratic partisans have been complaining about it for years and so apparently have his constituents."

Lieberman and the DLC aside, though, I've actually been far less concerned about the saber rattling concerning Iran than seemingly many other commentators have. My reasoning has been that despite all the talk and apprehension about pre-emptive wars and one-percent doctrines, and bellicose threats from the likes of Newt Gingrish, Bill Kristol and Max Boot, the neo-conservative administration basically had one military-force card to play, and that was in Iraq. If the neo-cons really thought Iran was a serious threat, they could have continued with the containment of Iraq and mobilized for Iran instead (or North Korea). But they didn't.

In any event, Iran and North Korea are not countries that, it seems to me, are going to be persuaded or changed by air power alone--substantial ground forces would need to be committed for any plan to invade Iran, and I don't see that happening, since a draft would be needed to provide the forces for such a misadventure.

But now I'm not sure if there isn't more to worry about. More than a few evangelical leaders with mass followings--and contacts at the White House--are sounding apocalyptic warnings about Iran, and the general level of "debate" has been such that I wonder if there hasn't been a point of no return already crossed. In that case, some sort of military action, however limited to air attacks it might be, and however unsuccessful those attacks might be, would seem to be necessary to let off the steam being generated by the press and the president's party's fan base.

And of course, rising gas prices are probably not going to relieve the tension clouding the war talk either.

So, I'm not optimistic about the future, even if Democrats take one or both branches of Congress this fall. The mess that's already been created, the expectations that have been built up around the "global war on terrorism" and "world war III/IV/V" will need considerable political skill to navigate, and I'm not reassured that the Democratic leadership and intelligencia is equiped to handle it. Considering that some faux Democrats are more aligned with the Republican neo-cons than their reputed party, my lack of faith is even more understandable.