Saturday, February 10, 2007

Conservative stoner

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A new biography claims that British Conservative Party leader David Cameron smoked pot (and was caught and grounded for it) while at school at Eton. Unfortunately, he opposes the legalization of marijuana except perhaps for medicinal use.

Hypocrisy? Sure. And it doesn't help that he has avoided the issue in the past by saying that he did unspecified things that he now regrets doing.

I'm tempted to make some snarky remark about conservatives and drugs. But why bother? Cameron is more "liberal" than most conservatives, particularly of the American persuasion, and for that he ought to be applauded, but it's a shame we still live in a time when mild drug use of this kind is still an issue.

Get over it. It's no big deal.

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Obama makes it official

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yup, Barack Obama's officially in the race. Let Obamania begin in earnest!


Obama has been smeared relentlessly since he announced the formation of an exploratory committee last month -- and then there was the Biden kerfuffle. We have defended him against the efforts of the right-wing smear machine to destroy him, as have many others, but do not doubt that the smearing will continue.

And yet I stand by what I've written before about Obama's candidacy -- here and here: I like him, but he has a lot to prove:

The expectations demand it. That '04 convention speech was stirring, and Obama shows signs of the sort of bully-pulpit qualities the presidency requires, but saying the right things at the right times isn't enough. Nor are hollow soundbites, no matter how quotable, no matter how inspiring. I do not doubt that he is a man of substance and profundity, but the junior senator from Illinois, still so raw, must add solidity to his vision. His lack of experience means the lack of a disturbing track record, of the sort that plagues senators more than governors, but he must prove to be more than an Oprah-oriented talk-show celebrity. It's one thing to talk about race, sex, and religion, quite another actually to do something about America's ills. He is running for commander-in-chief, after all, not therapist-in-chief.

Obama admitted today that there was "a certain presumptuousness -- a certain audacity -- to [his] announcement". Quite true. He delivered his speech on the grounds of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, where, several scores and some years ago, Lincoln delivered his "house divided" speech. And Obama did not fail to make the connection.

Make no mistake, though. Obama is no Lincoln.

He is an impressive man, and I'm keeping my mind open, even if I prefer other Democratic contenders at the moment, but there's a long way to go before he will have proven himself worthy of the highest office in the land.

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The Unapologetic Mexican -- best blog ever?

By Heraclitus

I've been citing and linking to The Unapologetic Mexican quite a bit lately. It's a great blog, covering a wide range of subjects, and the author, Nezua Limón Xolagrafik-Jonez, is an amazing writer and is almost unbelievably prolific (and he seems to proofread all his posts, something I don't haev time for). Anyways, today he has a great post up about bloggers and such, particularly the attempt to discredit bloggers by discussing them as if they're some kind of horrible creatures who will come at night to take your babies (yes, it's another one of those navel-gazing posts).

I personally am not one of those people who fetishizes the word "netroots," and acts as if something magical will happen if you say it or apply it to a particular opinion or action. I also dislike and distrust the idea of progressive blogs forming some kind of a movement, complete with order from the top and the expectation that we'll all march in lockstep. Nevertheless, I am somewhat hopeful about what blogs can accomplish (in large part because they are so obviously resistant to that kind of discipline and homogenization). And, in any case, I really like what Nez has to say about bloggers and the precious viewings-with-horror we're getting from the professional political and media classes.

"There's an extremism, there's an anger." [insert chattering teeth sound clip]

Amigo, are you sure you're not just finally hearing the constituency? I mean that's what I think. Because us out here in the street have long known of the divide between the packaged, glossy, polite world of Professional Bullshit that is media discourse and Propa Guvmint Presentation—and that which is our corner coffee-shop banter, or bar dialogue, or meeting of citizens at Spanish Class, or friends talking through a smoking break outside a night class, or outside a 12-step meeting. We all know that the conversations you and I are having are NOT the ones they are having on TV and in the halls of government. Isn't it a given? But maybe on the inside of the Washington bubble, it's not so clear. Maybe through the pearly distortion of that well-cooled Bubble, Bloggers look like frothy, unhinged beasts!...

You don't need to know much beyond BLOGGERZ are people using a tool called a COMPUTER. All you need to understand ahora is that We are the People, and We are Pissed. We are pissed off about things when they go wrong and nobody wants to act like a righteous leader about it. We know when we've been lied to and used, and no amount of wig-powdering will convince us that stuttering government officials know better than us on this. We get pissed when those lies hurt us as a nation, and continue to cost everyone money, money taken from programs that help people. We get pissed off when reports sneak out that tell us you are poisoning the world and humans with spent uranium weapons and outlawed chemical weapons. We get freakin crazy pissed when our own government wants to pretend it has one iota of credibility left in a sane world and use that presumed credibility to launch yet even more war.

We don't want war. We don't find it glorious. We don't find killing soothing to our sense of National Security. That has nothing to do with our Blogginess. This is just because we are not Halliburton or Bush or Cheney; we are the People, and what we really want are clean skies for our selves, and for our children to breathe from and gaze into. What we really want is not to drop bombs on wedding parties or fleeing nomads, but to make sure there is healthy food for ourselves and our children to eat. We want a world that doesn't hate us or our families because we are affiliated with America. We want to be proud of what our country stands for. We don't want to cringe in shame in the face of international scrutiny. We don't want war and we don't want to talk nicely about it when it is done without our permission and with lies and when talking nicely has done nothing for the HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF HUMAN BEINGS WHO HAVE DIED IN AN UNWARRANTED WAR and all because a handful of Stupid White Men™ wanted to get their I-rocks off and surge all over the Middle East.

But y'oughtta brace, pals. Because this is not the end of hearing unpleasantly energized and informed constituencies. More and more and more voices will be heard as technology gets cheaper and cheaper. And that's really the least of it, isn't it. Because just like the soldier who came home and read up on the Internet to form his anti-war opinion, more and more people educate themselves on more and more aspects of our nation's involvement in the world's flux of cause and effect, and that which you fear the most—an informed and vocal citizenry—now grows beyond your ability to stop it. I know you'll try, though. Even now you shriek behind your growing pangs.

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"Hehe, bomb the fuckers!"

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Actually, he's talking to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. But you know he'd have the same look on his face if he were ordering the bombing of Iran.

(Photo from The Globe and Mail.)


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Friday, February 09, 2007

Karl Rove: racist asshole

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas."

So said Rove yesterday at a Republican luncheon in defence of Bush's immigration plan.

The Raw Story has the story. And our co-blogger Libby has some reaction over at The Impolitic.

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Wiesel attacked

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In case you haven't yet heard, Elie Wiesel -- Holocaust survivor, Nobel laureate, scholar, and author -- was attacked last week in a hotel in San Francisco by a Holocaust denier. For more, see here.

Truly despicable.

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Al Gore on global warming

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Al Gore was interviewed on the BBC Two's The Daily Politics show earlier today. The interviewer is co-host Jenny Scott. Next to Gore is Virgin founder and rebel billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson (who, as The Washington Post is reporting, has "offered a $25 million prize... to anyone who can come up with a way to blunt global climate change by removing at least a billion tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Earth's atmosphere"). The topic is global warming. Here's the YouTube clip. It's quite long -- 8:41 -- but well worth it. Gore is an impressive and impassioned advocate for action to combat the climate crisis.

It ends -- starting at 5:48 -- with left-versus-right commentary back in the studio. The global warming denier is Peter Hitchens of the Mail on Sunday, a popular right-wing British tabloid. Peter, younger brother to Christopher (another pompous ass -- how did their parents manage it?), is a former Trotskyite and now an independent conservative whose positions are generally rightist (particularly on moral and cultural issues), nationalist (he opposed the Iraq War), and at times oddly libertarian (and anti-government). His argument here, common among the deniers if never quite expressed so blatantly, is relativistic: This is just the current view. There have been other views. No view is superior to any other view. So who is to say that global warming is true? (Who is to say that anything is true? My, how conservatives have come to resemble postmodernists. Sad, pathetic, dangerous, and utterly irresponsible.)

Please watch. It's important.

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Friday afternoon poem

By Heraclitus

So much to say about this one, but I'm afraid I'm in a hurry.

Langston Hughes

Ballad of the Landlord

Landlord, landlord,
My roof has sprung a leak.
Don't you 'member I told you about it
Way last week?

Landlord, landlord,
These steps is broken down.
When you come up yourself
It's a wonder you don't fall down.

Ten bucks you say I owe you?
Ten bucks you say is due?
Well, that's ten bucks more'n I'll pay you
Till you fix this house up new.

What? You gonna get eviction orders?
You gonna cut off my heat?
You gonna take my furniture and
Throw it in the street?

Um-huh! You talking high and mighty.
Talk on-till you get through.
You ain't gonna be able to say a word
If I land my fist on you.

Police! Police!
Come and get this man!
He's trying to ruin the government
And overturn the land!

Coppper's whistle!
Patrol bell!

Precinct Station.
Iron cell.
Headlines in press:

· · ·
· · ·


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Very briefly

By Heraclitus

Okay, I know I said I would let it go, but just one quick item. Via MyDD, here's one of those handy express your outrage with a form letter thangs. I mock it, because I'm a snarky a-hole, but seriously, check out the page and look at the failings of the MSM on this story. I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn't seem that important, but consider the MSM's failings on things like Iraq and increasingly Iran. If you need more motivation, check this out (seriously, please read that; a sample: "Ah, yeah. One of those "usual mistakes" of Iraqi Army killing innocents. But no, my friend. This ain't no usual wrongful murder! This is Strafing for Liberty, vato!"). It's clear that our media overlords at places like the N.Y. Times are mindless and venal jackals who will simply roll with the punches. The right wing has been pounding them for the past little while, and they've accordingly been laying down for Bush on everything. We need to start pounding them from the other side, because they clearly can't be trusted to do their job on their own.

I'm tempted to introduce my own, epigoneous Arbitrary But Fun Friday, or perhaps, in this case, Obscure by Fun Friday. The question: Charley Patton or Larry Sparks? "Mississippi Boweavil Blues" or "Ramblin' Pickin'"? "Lord, I'm Discouraged," or "Goin' Up Home to Live in Green Pastures"? "Prayer of Death, Pt. 1," or "Takin' a Slow Train"? "Broke Down Engine," or "Kentucky Mandolin"? If you said, hey, "Broke Down Engine" is Blind Willie McTell, go buy yourself a Clark Bar (or an effing Clark Bar, as we bloggers say). If you didn't say, "Kentucky Mandolin" is Bill Monroe, then hang your head in shame.

In shame.

I'm confident those last two paragraphs made no sense to anyone but me.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Th_t Cr_azy P_t S_j_k

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Would you like to solve the puzzle? If not, go ahead and buy a vowel.


In a short post at The Plank yesterday, Michael Crowley wonders how Pat Sajak and especially Vanna White haven't gone "completely insane" after "all these years".

I don't know about Vanna, but Pat does seem to have lost his mind.

In a P.S. to the post, Crowley links to a "Sajak says" on global warming at Pat's website -- yes, he has a website, and yes, he uses it in part to express his opinions on such topics as freedom of speech, the midterm elections, gay "outing," and the news media. And it seems he's a wingnut -- I had no idea, but conservative and Republican he truly is, and in such a knee-jerkingly reflexive way. He even lavishes praise on Republicans for being such "good losers" after the midterms. (Apparently he didn't see this -- the attack strategies of the House GOP.) And why did Republicans lose the midterms? Because, he seems to think, "Americans like their politics divided". Oh, right. It had nothing to do with Bush's disastrous presidency, including Iraq, and with a Republican Party that was corrupt and vicious.

Anyway, no "Sajak says" illustrates the author's wingnuttery more than the one linked to by Crowley. Pat admits he's not a scientist -- no, really? -- but then proceeds to claim that "there are some gaps in the logic of it all that make [him] skeptical and to contend that "the direct link between man and the warming is much more tenuous". (I'm sure he knows much more than the IPCC, which recently determined in a new report that the reality of global warming is "unequivocal" and that it is "very likely" the result of human activity -- that is, that there is at least a 90 percent likelihood that we are responsible.) And that isn't all. He goes on to accuse "the true believers" -- presumably those of us who don't think global warming is a hoax -- of being insincere, of not doing enough "to help reverse it," and then to trash Nancy Pelosi.

And that's just one of two successive posts on the topic.

The other one is a response to the IPCC report, and it's here that Pat gets Crichton-esque, as Crowley puts it. The presumptuousness that litters this post is astonishing. He may be just be the host of a popular game show -- so popular for so long that its success lies beyond my comprehension -- but he sure claims to know a lot more about climatology than, well, you know, climatologists. And so, from his elevated perspective, global warming, such as there is any, is just part a larger cycle of temperature fluctuation. And he's not alone. There are scientists who, like him, are "unconvinced that man is responsible". What he doesn't mention is that those "scientists" are industry-funded propagandists, not disinterested academics. What is truly impressive is that there is now such consensus in the scientific community, not that there is any serious disagreement.

But now let me quote Pat's conclusion, for it is truly one of the stupidest arguments pertaining to global warming -- or, indeed, to any issue -- that I have ever read: "There’s also the argument that we should take all steps deemed necessary by this panel 'just in case'. I say, let’s wait a bit before dramatically adjusting our lives. After all, if we can switch from an impending Ice Age to catastrophic global warming in just 30 years, we should be able, with some effort, to drop the temperature a degree or two in pretty short order."


Oh, well, if Sajak says... I'm sure we have everything under control. His credentials are so impeccable.

Honestly, though, who the hell does he think he is? What basis does he have for any of this? He thinks we should "wait a bit" before dealing with an "unequivocal" problem that could destroy much of civilization as we know it? He's concerned about "adjusting our lives," as if global warming is just some inconvenience?

How fucking stupid. And what a fucking idiot.

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Plan B; or, how to look like you're doing something about the genocide in Darfur without really doing anything at all

By Michael J.W. Stickings

On Darfur, there seems to be nothing but impotence and disinterest at the top. To wit:

President Bush has approved a plan for the Treasury Department to aggressively block U.S. commercial bank transactions connected to the government of Sudan, including those involving oil revenues, if Khartoum continues to balk at efforts to bring peace to Sudan's troubled Darfur region, government officials said yesterday.

The Treasury plan is part of a secret three-tiered package of coercive steps -- labeled "Plan B" -- that the administration has repeatedly threatened to unleash if Sudan continues to sponsor a campaign of terror that has left as many as 450,000 dead and 2.5 million homeless. But the administration has held back on any announcement of Plan B, even after setting a Jan. 1 deadline, in hopes of still winning Khartoum's cooperation.

Apparently, "[s]ome aspects of Plan B have already been stealthily launched, such as stationing four U.S. Army colonels last month as observers on the Sudan-Chad border in full view of Sudanese intelligence," but, given all the delays, not to mention the continuing procrastination in Khartoum, holding off international efforts and thereby enabling yet more genocide, there is justifiable skepticism that Plan B is anything more than hollow rhetoric supported by a few minor initiatives.

I suppose blocking these bank transactions is a positive step, but it will take far more to put an end to Sudan's genocidal ambitions in Darfur -- and this means not just international sanctions, since China likely wouldn't agree to such sanctions, and not just U.N.-led peacekeeping efforts, which as in Rwanda would not have the authority to engage the perpetrators with force, but a military intervention with teeth, one that could engage the Janjaweed, the Khartoum-backed militia operting in Darfur, and crush it.

Bush's Treasury-based effort goes back to Clinton, who initiated similar action in 1997, and this is one case where I do not necessarily question his sincerity -- his concern, such as he is concerned, may very well be sincere, and he may very well be frustrated that little has been accomplished thus far. But how to explain the delays? How to explain that Plan B -- a plan to "put pressure on Darfur rebel leaders -- isn't nearly enough, that such action as there has been thus far has been ineffectual? How to explain that Bush is still holding out hope, when there is no justification for it, that Khartoum will cooperate? In short, how to explain that the genocide continues even as Bush -- and everyone else in a position to do something about the genocide -- fiddles?

I can offer no explanations here other to conclude that Darfur just isn't that important to the U.S. And I can't just single out the U.S. It apparently isn't all that important to anyone else either. Even the U.N., which talks repeatedly about breakthroughs with Khartoum that never quite seem to materialize, as if talking is doing, falls far short of acknowledging what must be done to put an end to the genocide. Peacekeeping won't be enough -- has no one learned the lessons of Rwanda?

And so more time is wasted and more people die. And all we have is Plan B.

Which won't make a difference.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Warm fuzzy words

Guest post by Greg Prince

What exactly is the point of bipartisanship?


A few days ago at TMV I was captivated by a post by Pete Abel entitled "
Bipartisan Cooperation: Maybe There's Hope". The piece itself talks about the cooperation on a non-binding slap to the White House on Iraq, but I wonder how much the "hope" for cooperation has been thought through.

The right-wing base isn't interested in a Democratic Lite GOP, nor are the netroots desperate for a Republican Lite Democratic Party. It's true that many people are in the middle politically, but of those who are engaged in politics it's not that they don't have opinions so much as their opinions don't align to any single platform. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone -- the argument has long been that moderates do stand for things and do have opinions but that they just aren't in lockstep with a "movement" or subservient to an outside agenda.

It has often been said that most people, when they speak of bipartisanship, really mean "You be bi while I be partisan". With that in mind, it is interesting to look at a recent Pew study, as Chris Bowers of
MyDD did, which shows a public unified on the idea of bipartisanship but disinterested in compromising their own principles on any major issue.

Three in four respondents say they like politicians who are willing to compromise, but nearly seven in ten say they like politicians who stick to their positions even when unpopular. In other words, bipartisanship and gridlock both have veto-proof majorities.

It gets even stickier when looking at actual issues. Nearly three quarters responded that absolutely no compromise is possible on abortion. And you're in within the margin of error of majorities on the environment, immigration, Iraq, and tax policy. As Bowers notes:

The next time the public doesn't like someone because s/he or is a "flip flopper," perhaps they should look themselves in the mirror. More importantly, the next time a pundit or reporter states that the country is looking for compromise and bipartisanship, they should note that the country doesn't know what exactly it wants compromise on, and that they also like leaders who stand on principle.

I'm all in favor of good government -- and I've voted for candidates of both parties as circumstances warranted. The problem is that most of the time people who favor bipartisanship don't really have a clear grasp of what types of policies are to result from the groundswell of good karma. The least objectionable path isn't always the one which ultimately leads to the greatet good.

Consider this from the
Omaha College Democrats Blog:

My fear from the beginning, when Nelson and Warner came out with this tamer resolution, was that it set the bar so low, no progress could come from it. In the name of getting as many Republican Senators to sign on as possible, the proposal was basically neutered of any effectiveness. And the further right you go on something, you inevitably will lose someone on the left. This couldn't be any more transparent a political ploy if they tried: it's simply a meaningless resolution designed to give cover to Senators like Warner and Collins who have to seek reelection in 2008.

Exactly. I am often wont to cite an eleventh commandment, "Cover thine own". But it's true. Resolutions like the one Abel hails are largely symbolic, designed to provide political cover to both sides of the aisle, not actually to solve any of the questions that will still need to be addressed.

Liberaltopia has good words, too. Yes, compromise is sometimes necessary. But:

The thing is, our system is set up, in both the courts and in Congress, to be adversarial and partisan. The competition of ideas keeps democracies from bogging down in the sludge of one-party rule and narrow-minded thinking.

All in all, some perspective is in order. Bipartisanship for its own sake accomplishes nothing. Compromise when appropriate, and always seek out the best solution for a given situation. But when the opposition is wrong, it must be opposed. And don't apologize for it.

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Don't run over Carl Kruger

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Who is Carl Kruger? He's the New York State Senator who is proposing a bill to "ban gadget use while crossing city streets," as WCBS puts it. Yes, you read that correctly: to ban them. That means you'd have to turn off your iPod, your BlackBerry, or whatever other void-fulfilling electronic device cuts you off from your fellow human beings -- aurally, spiritually -- whenever you wish to walk from one side of the street to another.

They're killers, you see. Or, rather, cars and other vehicles are killers. Or, rather again, the drivers of these vehicles are killers. It just helps to be able to hear the instruments of these killers -- the vehicles -- before they have a chance to kill you. Then you might not be killed.

Kruger explains: "We're talking about people walking sort of tuned in and in the process of being tuned in, tuned out. Tuned out to the world around them. They're walking into speeding cars. They're walking into buses. They're walking into one another and it's creating a number of fatalities that have been documented right here in the city."

Wait. People walking into one another is part of the problem? I can understand the danger posed by not being able to hear cars and buses as they come bearing down on you, but banging into someone?

Now, to be fair, I do find a good deal wrong with the iPodification of our culture, of our civilization. We are indeed tuning out and cutting ourselves off from one another, and -- as in the past, for such is the nature of technology -- we are incorporating these gadgets into our individual senses of self, more accurately into our very selves. Which is to say, they have become, and are increasingly becoming as they become more and more sophisticated, extensions of our being. You are not just you, you are the you with the trendy white gadget with the white cables running to the white buds in your ear. You are the you of your own personal techno-bubble. I have my own gadgets -- although aside from my cell phone I don't generally use them in public -- but I recognize just how unhealthy this phenomenon is.

But what is the use of banning them in this limited way? What is the use of banning them in any way? They are what they are and they're here to stay. And the problem will only get worse. If some of us tune out, so be it. If there are risks associated with the use of such gadgets, so be it. At some point -- and we passed that point a long time ago -- people must be left to navigate the dangers of society on their own. For dangers there will always be. They cannot all be regulated out of existence, even when government takes it upon itself to treat us all like children.

Besides, isn't there something Darwinian about this? If human evolution now means the absorption of technology into the human form, that is, if it means the leap from human to techno-human, shouldn't we rely on natural selection to weed out those who aren't able to survive the transition? If you can't walk down the street listening to your iPod without banging into other people and walking into buses, you may not exactly be a prime candidate for this evolutionary development. You're making an effort, I know, but perhaps your time has passed.

Am I being facetious? Yes. And no. Make up your own minds. If you can tear your atomized selves away from your gadgets for a moment.

[Creature's Note: Michael's words, my cut-and-paste. Ignore all references to me below.]

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Just how many worms are in that can?

By Capt. Fogg

People who oppose same sex marriage will usually tell you it's unnatural. Evidence for this is that they don't like it, God doesn't like it, that it doesn't produce children, or that homosexuality, like religion, books, and rock & roll, does not occur in nature and therefore shouldn't be condoned by man.

In all probability, no one not afflicted with some form of idiocy, such as fundamentalism or a seat in Congress, would be unable to expose these arguments as unworthy of credence, but the credo so often expressed by religidiots who oppose homosexual relationships because our function is to breed, have argued themselves into a corner.

Enter the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance [stage left, of course]. The group, formed after Washington courts upheld a gay marriage ban, has filed an initiative in that state requiring married couples to produce children within three years or have their marriages annulled. Of course, they can't have any expectation that it will pass into law, but it will be interesting to see the believers wriggle out an explanation for rejecting it, if in fact they believe that marriage is only justified as a baby-producing scheme.

What of infertile couples who adopt children? Shall we annul their contracts? If not, then why not allow gay adoptive parents? You really can't argue God's will here, since God could produce a man from mud (and supposedly did) or impregnate an unmarried virgin (and supposedly did.) So if God wants Adam and Steve to have kids, he can handle it. You got a problem with allowing God some free will, preacher?

That homosexuality is observed in nature can't really be disputed. It can only be denounced as fraud from a position of religious evidence-blindness. If it is observable in animals, it cannot then be written off as unnatural behavior by definition nor denounced as an unnatural choice by religious conviction since animals are not capable of making moral choices: not having eaten a mythological fruit from a metaphorical tree. What occurs in nature is by definition natural.

As to whether God likes it or not, it all depends on your God and his or her (or their) forthrightness in expressing itself and the consequences of her displeasure. Since we can all agree that we have free will, I choose Rafafu, the god of a West Papuan tribe of tree-dwelling cannibals called the Kombai, and frankly my dear, Rafafu doesn't give a damn what they do in Washington. If anyone wishes to contradict my Rafafian beliefs, they're welcome to parachute into the jungle and discuss it with the Kombai.

Now, since the government is strictly forbidden by the Constitution to tell you who God is or wants or how God should be dealt with, I'm breathlessly waiting for the State of Washington to admit that its ban is illegal.

(Cross-posted at Human Voices.)

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The House's turn

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With the Senate stuck and divided, it's now the House's turn to move forward with an anti-surge resolution, a key first step in checking Bush's warmongering, legislatively speaking. Pelosi and Hoyer have scheduled a vote for next week.

(Tip: Steve Soto.)

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Reality check

By Michael J.W. Stickings

The Senate is locked in stalemate, a great deliberative body ground down by procedural minutiae, but, beyond the immediate politics of resolutions, debates on resolutions, and debates on debates on resolutions, where do the one hundred members of that august body stand on Iraq?

As MyDD's Chris Bowers is reporting, The Politico has conducted a survey of all senators, asking each one a series of four questions on Iraq:

  • Did you vote to authorize the use of force against Iraq in 2002?
  • If you voted yes, do you regret your vote?
  • Do you support the "surge"?
  • Do you support a timetable / fixed date for withdrawal?
Make sure to check out Chris's post for the results, as well as for a link to the survey, but here's the summary:

This is quite a survey. It means, among other things, that there are still at least forty-seven votes to authorize the war in Iraq, even now (the thirty-eight who don't regret their vote plus the nine Republicans new to Congress). It also means we are still nowhere near a majority for a timetable, with sixty-seven members opposing the idea (and, as I noted, many of the Democrats who oppose a timetable are from the progressive end of the spectrum).

Which is to say, don't get your hopes up. If the Democrats have their way, the Senate may narrowly vote to oppose the surge, but, unless there is a dramatic defection of Republicans to the (mostly) Democratic side, and not just Hagel, Warner, and the other obvious dissenters, it isn't yet in a position, given the numbers, to curtail Bush's ongoing (and reckless) war effort.

(And how specifically did Hillary Clinton respond, you ask? What is her position on the war? Well, she "stated, flat-out, that she does not regret her war vote. At the same time, she is still trying to campaign as though she is against the war, claiming that she wouldn't have started it, and that she would end it." In other words, she responded as you might expect her to respond. And that's not a compliment. -- And yet Republicans seem to think she's unbeatable. Go figure.)

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Haggard the happy heterosexual

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I don't have much to add to the whole sordid Ted Haggard affair beyond what I wrote back in November, which included this:

The drug use, the closeted homosexuality, the solicitation of prostitution -- a life of hypocrisy, of empty moralism, of fear and self-loathing. And then the initial denials and subsequent admissions. And now the confession. It's such a good story, if a predictable one...

I suspect that Haggard will one day return to his church -- a purified man who has overcome his demons, but not an honest one, not a self-aware one. And the church will welcome him back. And this story of overcoming will be told over and over again as a lesson to all. We all have our dark side. We all know what it's like to succumb to it. Praise be to Ted Haggard for fighting the good fight and for being an example to us all.

So it will go. And then the gay-bashing will continue. And the self-hatred, for each and every one of them, will find its outlet in outward hatred of the diseased Other.

Well, the predictable has become reality. Meet the "new" Ted Haggard:

The Rev. Ted Haggard emerged from three weeks of intensive counseling convinced he is "completely heterosexual" and told an oversight board that his sexual contact with men was limited to his accuser.

But he hasn't yet been welcomed back. Rather, "the four-man oversight board" -- which I'm sure has expertise on such matters and knows what it's doing -- "strongly urged Haggard to go into secular work instead of Christian ministry". Haggard and his wife will pursue online Masters degrees in psychology -- ooh, how challenging -- and move away from the righteous hotbed of Colorado Springs, temptations and all, perhaps to Iowa or Missouri.

My friend Steve Benen puts is this way (in a post that is right on the mark): "An awful story has managed to get even more pathetic." Haggard claims to have suffered from sexual addiction, but he also claims that that his homosexuality (and, indeed, his entire extra-marital sexual contact) was limited, in practice, to one man. That isn't addition. And it's rather incredible. Either Haggard is lying or he is hiding behind a clinical problem. Or both.

Regardless, it seems unlikely -- no, it is impossible -- that "three weeks of counseling at an undisclosed Arizona treatment center" has cleared up his "sexual immorality," as he put it. Nor is it possible that he is now, as a member of the oversight board put it, "completely heterosexual". Leaving aside the valid point that no one is either completely heterosexual or completely homosexual, can it be true that his homosexuality was merely a temptation, a "feeling," that could be overcome in therapy? No.

Andrew Sullivan: And so the psychological and spiritual abuse that Haggard has imposed on others and is now imposing on himself continues for another cycle of denial and pathology. And that is what, sadly, a great deal of Christian fundamentalism is caught up in: a vortex of denial of reality and rigid psychological resistance to self-acceptance... And Haggard is getting sicker." Steve again: "This whole charade is a bad joke. No serious person can believe that a man can be buying meth, having gay sex with a prostitute, and lying to everyone he cares about in November, and be fully 'rehabilitated' in early February after three weeks of 'therapy.'"

The Haggard saga is indeed "a bad joke" -- to us. The problem is that there are too many people out there who are more than willing, more than happy, to take Haggard's recovery seriously, to believe that homosexuality is merely a disease, an immoral disease, that can be overcome through self-denial masquerading as therapy. They may do so because they themselves are in denial, or because they fear the unknown, the Other, both within and without. We all need our lies, after all. Some are just less noble than others. And some -- like this one, like the hypocritical lies of Haggard and his kind, lies that enable abuse -- are not only self-destructive but destructive of others, socially destructive.

Those lies are alive and well in the evangelical community from which Haggard has been temporarily banished. And his story, the fall and rise of a sinner, only serves to strengthen them.

No matter what becomes of Haggard himself, that is the real tragedy of this whole sordid affair.

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Bovine bonanza

By Michael J.W. Stickings

With so much bad happening in the world, let's take a break for another amusing photo of the day. This one's from the BBC: "Young farmers dress up to deliver a petition to the UK government in London over milk prices." Alrighty then.

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Oh, my

By Heraclitus

Yeah, I'm not very imaginative with the post titles. But, in any case, you have got to see this video. The first two segments are howlingly funny; the third, progressively more abysmal and terrifying.

By the way, I hope this isn't that "hotlinking" the kids are talking about. Can someone who knows more about the inner workings of the internets and their etiquette tell me if it is? Gracias.


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Open season?

By Capt. Fogg

In the 1920's, the Ku Klux Klan is said to have had some 4 million members. Today with an overall population twice as large, it may have according to the Anti-Defamation League, nearly 8 thousand. So why is there a growing concern? In part it's because having reached a low point in 2000, according to a CNN report, membership is again on the rise. It's on the rise for the same reason it reached a peak 80 years ago: anti immigration hysteria. New groups are springing up and joining forces with other white supremacy organizations, crosses are appearing on Hispanic lawns.

Even on a less white-sheet level, anti Mexican rhetoric has been flooding that great underground river of e-mail that gets passed from one computer to another until you don't know where it started or any of the names on the mailing list. I get a number of them every week, from nasty jokes to dire warnings about diseased, depraved and demented stealers of jobs, starting a revolution and giving Texas back to Mexico.

Perhaps I'm less concerned about the recrudescence of the Klan than some. It's not because I share their views but more because there often is nothing to do on warm Southern nights and those sheets are so visible in the moonlight. They even wear a little red target patch right over their hearts. . .


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Debating Iraq

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Is it really news that the Republicans in the Senate have voted to block debate on a resolution opposing Bush's surge? Okay, it's news -- but it's certainly not a surprise. Although they claim to seek compromise, the vast majority of Republicans, led by the hyper-partisan Mitch McConnell, have no interest in opposing Bush and every interest in opposing the Democrats.

Nice try at bipartisanship, Senator Warner, but your party will promote the McCain-Graham alternative, which is pro-Bush (that is, pro-surge with benchmarks for the Iraqis, which, when they're not met, which is inevitable, will provide Bush with the cover he needs to withdraw -- er, declare victory, blame the Iraqis, and run). It won't let the Democrats win and it won't even agree to a compromise that in any way compromises Bush.

That's just the way it is.

For more, see Talking Points Memo, The Left Coaster, and AMERICAblog.

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Rudy's in (almost)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yes, it looks like Rudy Giuliani is running for president after all. (Maybe.)

(By the way, did you know he was actually the mayor of New York on 9/11? Huh. I had no idea. I mean, he could have told us or something.)

He polls well -- vague memories of heroism and all -- but I'm with Drum on this: "The average voter has vague, positive impressions of Rudy thanks to his 9/11 heroics, and these people are going to be unpleasantly surprised when they see him for the first time in years and he turns out to be nastier than they remember (not to mention being freighted down by a closet full of skeletons they didn't know about). He has nowhere to go but down."

And that's where he'll go. Down. (If you want to know why he won't make it through the Republican primaries, just watch Jesus Camp, which I finally saw for the first time over the weekend. Scary stuff. And very non-Rudy.)

See also Taylor Marsh and, on the more supportive side, Ed Morrissey. (And also WaPo.)


UPDATE: See Glenn Greenwald, who looks at Giuliani's "compatibility with the Republican Christian base" and determines that he is, contrary to conventional wisdom, quite compatible with it. One key reason: Giuliani is suitably "authoritarian" for the right, which is looking for a "Churchillian hero". Whether or not Giuliani is such a hero is another matter (and I would say he isn't); the point is that he is perceived to be such a hero. In addition, there isn't an obvious choice for the base. Romney isn't conservative enough and has a more liberal-moderate background that he wants to let on, and Brownback isn't really electable. And McCain -- well, the base hates him. So why not Giuliani? It's a persuasive argument, though I'm not yet persuaded. The culture war issues are still huge, Giuliani's background is way too liberal for the GOP, and ultimately I think the right will find one of its own to support.

As always with Glenn, make sure to read the whole post.

For more, see Digby.

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John Edwards and health care

By Michael J.W. Stickings

John Edwards came out yesterday with a plan for what he calls "universal health care through shared responsibility". As he put in in an e-mail to supporters: "47 million people are uninsured, while uncertainty grows and costs spiral for nearly everyone else. To fix this crisis, we don't need an incremental shift, we need a fundamental change."

47 million people are uninsured: This is truly one of the great American embarrassments, an injustice on such a vast scale that I wonder when I think of it how America can claim to be a great nation at all.

Edwards offers a comprehensive "plan to strengthen America’s health care system and insure all Americans by 2012". This is what separates him from Clinton and Obama, not to mention the Republicans. How do they intend to remedy this problem. Perhaps they intend not to. Perhaps they have no plan at all. Not yet anyway. Or perhaps, if they're on the other side, they oppose any plan at all.

This is another good reason, if you haven't yet done so, to give Edwards a serious look.

There will be powerful forces lined up against him, tp be sure, forces that have an interest in perpetrating and perpetuating this injustice. Edwards has the courage and conviction to stand up to them.


You can read all about his plan here.

Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon, Edwards's new blogmaster, posted on it here. As well as here, where she linked to Ezra Klein, who analyzed the plan here. WaPo covers the story here.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Beyond a reasonable doubt, 87 percent of Republicans are ignorant fools

By Michael J.W. Stickings

According to Think Progress, referencing a new National Journal poll, only 13 percent of Congressional Republicans think that "beyond a reasonable doubt... the Earth is warming because of man-made problems".

Aside from the Inhofe-like conspiracy theorists who think it's all a big hoax, perhaps the most irresponsible political position anyone can take today, some of those 87 percent of Republicans must have been held back by that "beyond a reasonable doubt" qualifier. But come on. If you don't think that human activity is responsible for global warming "beyond a reasonable doubt," you're an ignorant fool. There's no other way to put it. Or, rather, there's no way to put it nicely. You've got your head up your ass. There's no doubt about it.

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King Hugo

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Look, it's our amusing photo of the day: "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez waves to the crowd during a military parade to commemorate a failed coup attempt he led in 1992," as the Globe puts it.

Although there's nothing amusing about Chavez's tyranny. And there's nothing amusing about Chavez's support for Colombian narco-terrorist groups like the FARC and ELN -- as Robert Kaplan explains in Imperial Grunts, an exceptional book about the frontlines of the American Empire that I'm currently reading. And there's nothing amusing about anyone who still thinks that Chavez is anything other than a terrorism-enabling tyrant -- although there are leftist apologists who continue to look past his tyranny and embrace his anti-American radicalism (any enemy of America is a friend of theirs, so the tyranny-apologizing reasoning goes).

So why is this amusing? Perhaps it isn't. Or perhaps what's amusing, in an ironic sort of way, is the charade of Venezuelan democracy. This photo, it seems to me, captures that charade in action.

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One of those quote posts

By Heraclitus

Hey, I hate to put up a post that's basically just quoting someone else, but when someone's this good, you just have to. Glenn Greenwald is always good, but lately he's been en fuego.

Start with this portrait of Joe Lieberman, which Greenwald rightly takes as emblematic of neocon war-mongers:

[Jeffery] Goldberg [author of a recent New Yorker profile of Holy Joe] also includes this seemingly insignificant but quite revealing incident from Lieberman's past:

Lieberman likes expressions of American power. A few years ago, I was in a movie theatre in Washington when I noticed Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, a few seats down. The film was “Behind Enemy Lines,” in which Owen Wilson plays a U.S. pilot shot down in Bosnia. Whenever the American military scored an onscreen hit, Lieberman pumped his fist and said, “Yeah!” and “All right!”

That is about as vivid a profile of the neoconservative warrior mentality as one can get: paranoid and frightened guys who derive personal and emotional fulfillment by giddily cheering on military destruction from a safe and comfortable distance -- who see war as a fun video game to play, through which one can feel the pulsating sensations of power and triumph -- combined with an obsessive focus on, really a paranoia of, the threat of Islamic fantacism to the seeming exclusion of every other issue and danger.

He then says this about the self-important but vacuous and indeed noxious posturing of self-styled Washington insiders, who are just too damned sophisticated and statesmanly to have principles:

For the eager-to-please, self-styled Beltway insider-experts, a failure to form a clear political opinion is the mark of both intellectual and moral superiority, of emotional maturity, and is the hallmark of that most coveted Washington virtue -- seriousness. Unlike you, who has formed one of those dirty opinions that the President has no right to break the law, Wittes understand that these matters are much, much more complex and sophisticated than that -- after all, this involves computers and national security threats and data and things you cannot possibly begin to understand -- and it is only your ignorance, your extremely unserious partisanship, that has enabled you to think that you are in a position to oppose or condemn what George Bush has done here.

As Greenwald goes to note, the Bush administration itself has now tacitly admitted that their wire-tapping was indeed illegal, which makes the pompous equivocating of the article he's shredding all the more inane.

Finally, there's this, on the way the "debate" over war with Iran is shaping up:

There is a real, and quite disturbing, discrepancy between the range of permissible views on these issues within our mainstream political discourse and the views of a large segment of the American public. The former almost completely excludes the latter.

That has to change and quickly. In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, we did not have a real debate in this country about whether that was wise or just. Cartoon images and bullying tactics supplanted rational discourse -- not only prior to the invasion but for several years after -- and we are paying the very heavy price for that now. That is simply not a luxury that the country can afford this time. It is genuinely difficult to imagine anything more cataclysmic for the United States than a military confrontation with Iran...

Just as is true for Iraq, we have been subjected to a carousel of ever-changing, unrelated "justifications" as to why Iran is our mortal enemy against whom war is necessary. First was the alarm-ringing over Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. Then, the President began featuring the (highly misleading) claim that Iran is the "leading sponsor of international terrorism." That was followed by an unrelenting emphasis on the ugly statements from Iran's President (but not its "leader"), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now the emphasis has shifted to Iran's alleged (but entirely unproven and apparently overstated) fueling of the civil war in Iraq.

The only clear fact that emerges from this morass of war-fueling claims is that there are significant and influential factions within the country which want to drive the U.S. to wage war against Iran and change its government. What matters to them is that this goal is achieved. The "justifications" which enable it do not seem to matter at all. Whatever does the trick will be used. Candid and explicit debates over these issues -- and clear, emphatic opposition to the course the President is clearly pursuing with regard to Iran -- is urgently necessary.

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Just another day in the life and death of Iraq XXXVIII

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sunday was quieter than Saturday, the death toll less, but the violence continued:

  • "Four people were killed and 20 wounded Sunday when a car bomb exploded near a bus station in the town of Khalis, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Baquba."
  • In Baghdad..., gunmen, bombs and mortar attacks killed 14 people and injured 46 more."

Overall: "The Iraqi Interior Ministry estimates that about 1,000 people have been killed throughout Iraq in the past week due to gunbattles, drive-by shootings and bomb attacks."


Meanwhile, according to the BBC, Prime Minister Maliki has "vowed to put an end to attacks like Saturday's deadly truck bombing in Baghdad, which he blamed on followers of ex-leader Saddam Hussein": "We reassure the population that we will put an end to these crimes." (A government spokesman claimed that "half of the attacks in Baghdad were carried out by extremists who came from Syria".)

Saturday's suicide bombing was carried out by Sunni insurgents against Shiites. Is Maliki, a Shiite close to Moqtada al-Sadr, vowing to put an end to Sunni attacks or to all attacks? And what would his reaction had been if Saturday's attack had been carried out agaisnt Sunnis by, say, Sadr's Mahdi Army?

The sectarian violence in Iraq is a civil war and Maliki's government in Baghdad is itself sectarian. To the extent that it supports the U.S. (and Bush's surge), it does so only insofar as it can ally with American forces against the Sunnis, insofar as it can use the U.S. in its civil war against the Sunnis. As long as the U.S. remains an occupying force in Iraq governed by Maliki and his allies, it operates, wittingly nor not, as an instrument of sectarianism. Either it fights both sides, including the government on one of those sides, or it sides with one side (the Shiites) against the other (the Sunnis). Either way, it has been sucked into a civil war from which there is no easy escape.

All the more reason not to be there other than to protect refugees and to battle al Qaeda and other terrorist elements.

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The delusional optimism of Krazy Kristol

By Michael J.W. Stickings

(We just started our Krazy Kristol series here at The Reaction, but there's just so much material to cover that we're already on our third installment. Click on the label below for the others. Here's the latest.)

Believe it or not, Bill Kristol said this yesterday on Fox News Sunday: "There’s no evidence [the Sunni extremists] can stand up to U.S. troops and quite a bit of evidence that they’re worried. On the whole over the last two weeks, some of the news for Iraq is slightly optimistic. It’s going to be tough, but I see nothing that persuades me that the surge can’t work quite well." (C&L has the video and transcript here, and TP lists "the deadly acts of violence that have taken place in the last week alone" here.)

Billy K. also said Saturday's horrendous suicide bombing that killed over 130 people was an effort "to convey an impression of chaos" in response to the coming surge -- in other words, that it was an act of desperation. But how is this a sane contribution to the public discourse on Iraq? He has no basis for his wild and krazy speculation. Does he understand the motives of the insurgents -- does he understand the nature of the sectarian violence at all? I think not. It is simply irresponsible of him to go on television and pass this off as reasoned analysis. Fox cultists will swallow it all, of course, but how can the killing of 130 Iraqis be a sign that things will get better -- for what else is optimism? I suppose the civil war described by the NIE is also cause for impending celebration.

Is there a clinical term for this sort of delusion? If so, let me know.

(Or is he just a liar?)

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Too late, Dick

By Michael J.W. Stickings

From TPM (via HuffPo), former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) is having second thoughts about the Iraq War:

The resolution was a resolution that authorized the president to take that action if he deemed it necessary. Had I been more true to myself and the principles I believed in at the time, I would have openly opposed the whole adventure vocally and aggressively. I had a tough time reconciling doing that against the duties of majority leader in the House. I would have served myself and my party and my country better, though, had I done so.

Ah, yes, those Republican revolutionaries. Always sacrificing self, party, and country to the demands of political expediency -- or something like that. Never being true to themselves and their principles. Is there another word for this but cowardice?

As Josh puts it, though: "I think that's farther than Sen. Clinton has been willing to go."

True enough.


You can find the Q&A with Armey here. He says that the Bush presidency has not been "a success in public policy terms". (No, really?) And he thinks Hillary will win in '08. ("She's walking around with a ton of dynamite in her hip pocket.")

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

You have got to be kidding me

By Heraclitus

Lily, I read this little nugget of truly glorious news:

Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered.

The UN report was written by international experts and is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science. It will underpin international negotiations on new emissions targets to succeed the Kyoto agreement, the first phase of which expires in 2012. World governments were given a draft last year and invited to comment.

The AEI has received more than $1.6m from ExxonMobil and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush administration. Lee Raymond, a former head of ExxonMobil, is the vice-chairman of AEI's board of trustees.

I wish I could come up with some kind of snappy ending, but I'm overwhelmed by a mixture of disbelief and anger.

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A few last words on the Biden kerfuffle

By Heraclitus

If you're like me, you're somewhat disappointed or irritated by Joe Biden's decision to beging his run for the Democratic nomination by pointing at Barak Obama and saying, "He ain't like them other colored boys, is he?" Most people seem convinced that Biden didn't have much a chance in any case, but he's the only candidate who's declared so far who isn't a slickster product of the media/fundraising culture, and he has more experience in the Senate than all the other candidates combined. And then the fact that Biden capped his statement off with a "man" just makes him sound like some coked-out '70s hipster.

I don't think that Biden himself is a "racist," however one determines the exact meaning of that word. More than that, someone like HRC, who would of course never make such a gaffe, will no doubt sell blacks down the river the first chance she gets as president (if indeed she gets any). I don't know that Biden would be any better, but I do think it's a mistake to think we can predict what his policies regarding African-Americans would look like based on this comment.

Then why exactly was the comment a problem? Kai Chang explains:

I have no desire to talk about Joe Biden and his doomed presidential run; but I wouldn't mind taking Biden's words and using them to explore and explode some of the false narratives that dominate the national discourse on race. I wouldn't mind talking about how certain stylized ideas and images — not mere slurs or epithets — rather, entire psychic complexes of associative ideas and images, conspire to inform a normative racist worldview, which perpetuates itself through the repetitive mass-hypnotic invocation and reinforcement of those very ideas and images.

So here's what Biden said: "I mean, you've got the first sort of mainstream African American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a story-book, man."

As far as I could tell, here's the subtext he was invoking: Blacks aren't mainstream like you and me, man. I mean, most Blacks have trouble speaking proper English and seem kind of yucky and not very bright, and you just can't trust a lot of those inner city types. But I mean, this Obama guy seems So Safe To White America that he possibly even has a shot at winning, though I doubt it, man.

It's not any one word, but taken as a whole, the overall effect of Biden's words is to indirectly trigger a set of widespread racist narrative frames, to which the speaker in fact appears to be responding in his train of thought. And if you don't believe in the power of narrative suggestion, go talk to the folks on Madison Avenue. This isn't about Biden or DC politics; for me, it's about examining how various facets of racism work and what can be done to undermine those workings.

So it's not a coincidence that when Biden was casting about for something a little less pointed than "Boy, he's a helluvan improvement over Al Sharpton, ain't he?" he came up with something that so many have found less than inspiring. It's not that Biden himself is a bad man or hates blacks, but that he quickly, quite possibly unconsciously, lit upon some fairly racist language that calls forth a very racist narrative or set of background beliefs. And in so doing, he reinforces or further animates that narrative.

(The brilliant image used in this post is the creation of Nezua, aka
The Unapologetic Mexican.)

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By Michael J.W. Stickings

With kickoff just a few minutes away, here's my prediction:

Indianapolis Colts 31
Chicago Bears 20

I've been going back and forth on this one, but I think the Colts' O will outplay the Bears' D and that the Colts' D will do just enough to keep the Bears' rushing game in check. It's not that I have all that much confidence in Peyton Manning, however. He's a great QB but at best a mediocre playoff performer, even this year. If he's on, even the Bears can't stop him. If he's not, this could be yet another meltdown. But he just has too much talent around him, and if this game comes down to turnovers, I have far more confidence in Manning than in Rex Grossman, perhaps one of the worst QBs ever to lead to team to the big game. He was horrible in the first half against the Saints in the NFC championship game two weeks ago, but he was able to pick apart a more horrible Saints' secondary in the second half and, much to his credit, he didn't turn the ball over. The Colts D isn't great, and it's lousy against the run, but it could be just opportunistic enough to stop the Bears, particularly if DE Dwight Freeney is able to put pressure on Grossman and S Bob Sanders is able to support the LBs in stopping the run.

But I've been picking against the Bears all year even as they've kept winning. And I can see the RB combination of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson running for over 150 yards today. And Grossman has some good WRs to throw to -- in particular, Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian. And even Manning, WRs Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, RBs Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes, and TE Dallas Clark could be shut down by the LB Brian Urlacher-led Bears D. The Colts have the much better K in former Patriots hero Adam Vinatieri, but the Bears' Robbie Gould has had a pretty good season and won the playoff game over Seattle in OT a few weeks ago.

All good reasons to go with the Bears, but I think this is Manning's year to prove he's one of the best ever. He hasn't had much of a playoff run so far, but he should be able to rise to the occasion and lead the Colts to a win today.

Enjoy the game, everyone. See you later.


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