Tuesday, August 30, 2005


And the latest from the warfront

"We are winning. Everyone except the Americans knows this."
-U.S. Sen. Mike Monroney, D-Okla., speaking on Vietnam, 1964

Sound familiar?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Various bits and pieces of spin

God's self-appointed spokesmen speak again

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."
-Pat Robertson, advocating the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. God could not be reached for comment on this matter, but I suspect He disagrees with Robertson's position.

"Hang on, let me just tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out -- is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus -- band -- Do, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, "Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore," and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, "Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death." And you know, well, I'm not sure."
-Clear Channel talk show host Glenn Beck.

Numbers - Boring, yet fun

54% - The portion of the American population who thinks it was a mistake to invade Iraq.

51% - The portion of Americans who approve of President Bush's overall performance, according to the latest Gallup poll.

45% - The share of Americans who think Bush is actually doing something worth a damn about anything.

I read the other day that Al Franken and Air America radio are really doing badly. I was saddened at first, but with numbers like these coming in, I don't guess we left-wingers really need our own propaganda machine. Right-wingers have made it so easy for us, it's almost not sporting to bash them.

$2.61 - The average cost of a gallon of unleaded in America last week. I hope the admittedly small minority among SUV drivers who once acted so smug, in-your-face and gleeful about the political incorrectness of their choice of vehicle are enjoying themselves as they fill up their Escalades and Expeditions these days. So much for the pundits who said Americans would be undeterred by any gas price.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Lies, deceptions and Bush

President Bush got away with so much during his first term. It took us liberals four years to see the pattern of dishonesty within which he and his staff operate. We now know better, and we routinely search for the ulterior motive and figure out what lies waiting inside any Trojan horse Bush presents to the public. He knows his agenda is unpalatable and detestable to the American public, whether it be privatization of Social Security, tax cuts for the wealthy or the war in Iraq. Therefore, he has no choice but to resort to lies and deceptions, always hiding his real agenda, to get his way.

The New York Times' Paul Krugman discusses Bush's pathological dishonesty in his column this week, and he makes his case a lot better than I've made mine, so I'll let you read about it here:

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


God's spokespeople

Did you know that God is opposed to Senate filibusters? Did you know that God strongly believes in judicial restraint, especially a strict constructionist view of the Constitution? I can't actually find Him on record stating these views, especially not in the Bible. But His self-appointed spokesmen at Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council insist it's true. And since they get to decide for all of us Christians what we should believe, I suppose I shouldn't argue, lest I be branded a secular humanist.

These folks have gotten together recently for a couple of events they've called Justice Sunday and Justice Sunday II to express support for John G. Roberts and to quash anybody who might even question his qualifications and to express its scorn for the Supreme Court in a rabid display not seen since "Impeach Earl Warren" signs began dotting southern highways shortly after Brown v. Board of Ed.

So marching in lockstep with Tom Delay, a paragon of Christian values currently under investigation for a lengthy trail of ethical misdeeds, as well as convicted Watergate felon Chuck Colson, this army of values has shown zero concern about social injustices or that many children in America have no future or that the precarious financial state of middle-class America is perhaps our greatest threat to families. In fact neither the Family Research Council's nor Focus on the Family's archives of statements show that they have anything to say about any real concerns that impact real families. In essence it's the usual story with the Christian right: Hearts bleed over the unborn, but turn to stone for those out of the womb. Indeed, these two groups are about little more than sanctimonious indignation and how it can be harnessed to gain political power.

But instead of listening to me pontificate further, I'll quote some highlights from the two Justice Sundays and throw in some other quotes.

"Justice Sunday: Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith."
-The first event's official name, reflecting the religious right's insistence that anyone who disagrees with them is persecuting them.

"How do the judges get away with such outrageous decisions? By asserting that Supreme Court decisions are the supreme law of the land. But you know that is not true. That is a terrible heresy."
-Phyllis Schlafly, attempting to interpret the Constitution at Justice Sunday II.

"The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority..."
-Article III, Section 2, U.S. Constitution

"There is a majority on the Supreme Court that is -- and you'll have to pardon me, but this is the way I see it -- they're unelected and unaccountable and arrogant and imperious and determined to redesign the culture according to their own biases and values, and they're out of control. And I think they need to be reined in."
-James Dobson at Justice Sunday II, ignoring that six of the nine justice were appointed by Republican presidents.

"Black churches are too concerned with justice,"
- Harry Jackson, who happens to be black, speaking at the first Justice Sunday.

"Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court. They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."
-James Dobson, proposing that Congress get rid of judges it dislikes by stripping their courts of funding.

"But when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men."
-Matthew 6:5

Right-wing mouthing off vs. the truth

If you ever listen to conservative talk radio as I try to do as little as possible, you'll notice those guys speak so fast and throw so many opinions and "facts" out into the airwaves, you can't keep it straight. Outrageous comments are made without substantiation. Facts are presented without attribution. It's all part of their game to misinform. Don't let the truth get in the way of a good argument, as Sean Hannity believes. Here's a fun link that presents right-wing opinion alongside what is factually correct:

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Flash blogging

I have 22 kids coming to my classroom in three days, so I'm a little busy right now, so I thought I'd take some time for some lightning fast blogging, quick opinions on this and that:

1) President Bush likes to think of himself as the heir to Ronald Reagan. Taking a look at his guns and butter approach, what with this ongoing mess in Iraq and his pork-packed highway bill that went over his original estimate by $3 billion, perhaps Bush should start looking at himself as the heir to LBJ.

2) Does it seem like Bush is looking more and more foolish trying to pretend he doesn't see this woman camped out in front of the "ranch" in Crawford? I'm sure you've heard all about this mother of a fallen soldier in Iraq who demands an audience with the president. Apparently, she's joined by an increasing number of people, who remain undaunted by a passing parade of drive-by yahoos trying to bully and intimidate them into leaving. Meanwhile, our president refuses to acknowledge that this woman is sitting by his front gate. To my knowledge, Bush still has not attended one funeral of a fallen soldier out of a persistent fear of what that would do to him politically. What kind of leadership is this?

3) And here we thought that the Tom Delay affair had quietly blown over as right-wingers were hoping. Fortunately, federal prosecutors are quite tenacious and work on their own schedule. Republican lobbyist/crook Jack Abramoff was finally indicted Thursday for his trail of malfeasance. As you know, this guy is connected to Christian right leader Ralph Reed, whose own ethics have been questioned lately, and of course connected to Delay. Of course we're also hearing that Delay's own PAC has been rife with inconsistencies and bad bookkeeping. We'll stay tuned for further news on him. Of course, I'm sure right-wingers are continuing to make excuses.


We had some interesting responses to my blog on Monday discussing how reasonable conservatives continue to see morning in America, while right-wing ideologues peddle the end times to score donations and votes. One reader said this:

Good blog, Mouth. I get sooo tired of conservatives harking back to the good old days of the 1950's. Yeah, lets go back to Jim Crow, Red baiting, and mono. Where we all walked lockstep together in our homogenous staid society. Where conformity was a virtue. I think the 60's and 70's was a convulsive reaction against this, though no doubt it went too far and has left some societal problems that we are still dealing with. I got a novel suggestion: instead of pointing a finger at others, how about we reach out a help hand.

Indeed. The basic philosophy guiding many right-wingers is, "I'm just fine. You're the problem."

Another reader said this:

You are also correct about 48% of the electorate voting for the party of the far left. However, I just think this goes to diminish your suggestion that we're slouching towards Jerusalem.

It seems statistically impossible for all this positive change to take place if 48 percent of the electorate is this bad. And do you really believe that because someone voted for Kerry that means they support drug use, divorce and teenage promiscuity? If so, then thank you for illustrating what I've been saying all along about right-wingers.

Furthermore, I urge you to revisit my June 24 posting, which shows some strong evidence that while red-staters talk the talk on family values, blue-staters are far more likely to actually walk the walk.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Good news doesn't sell

We hear so often from the right-wingers in this country about the moral decline in America. To hear them talk we're defining deviancy downward as we slouch toward Gomorrah. Children don't say "Yes ma'am" and "No sir." Men wear their hats indoors. And women use curse words. Indeed, they say, we must be in the end times.

Fortunately, not all conservatives feel this way. Francis Fukuyama, for example, writes in his 1999 book, The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order, that after the social chaos and moral erosion of the 1960s and '70s, we seem to be in the midst of a reweaving of the social fabric. Our society is rebuilding the civic institutions and social order it needs to stay healthy.

Just yesterday, David Brooks wrote in the New York Times about how America seems to be picking up the pieces from the if-it-feels-good-do-it era and putting itself back together. He cites many statistics showing that out-of-wedlock births are way down, as are crime and drug use. Even divorce rates seem to be on their way downward, especially among younger college graduates. His column brings us good news and let's us know that we really have a lot to celebrate in these times. Americans are not just mouthing off about traditional values but actually practicing them. It even appears that the younger one is, the more likely one is to show firm moral discipline.

I strongly recommend you read, Brooks' editorial. Click here:

Unfortunately, even while reasonable conservatives like Brooks and Fukuyama cheer on this social reconstruction of civic America, the right-wing GOP leadership would rather focus on the negative. Bearing good news about rebuilding the social order doesn't sufficiently incense the rank and file. If the average Republican actually heard that an increasing number of Americans choose to behave responsibly, those checks to the RNC might quit coming and the feverish outrage might subside on Election Day. Therefore, the right-wing outrage mill must continue its focus on the negative, and boy, do they have to really dig and take liberties some days to dredge up some santimonious indignation.

God and Politics

Speaking of morals, the New York Times and our ongoing discussion of the Democrats' search for identity, the Times ran a pretty good column the other day written by Jim Wallis, who heads the liberal evangelical Christian group Sojourners. Wallis, who also wrote the book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, disucsses how Democrats should speak up and start molding the discussion of what it means to bring a Christian perspective to public forum.

Click here:

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Lessons from Fleet Street

The Mouth and wife have returned from a wonderful week in London, exploring the multi-textured dimensions of a 2,000-year-old city and keeping an eye out for suspicious packages left in the Underground.

An added bonus to leaving the United States for a week was taking a breather from the rancorous partisanship and ideological feuding that characterizes so much of day-to-day life here. It seems you can't even casually read a newspaper or have the TV on without hearing about how the Republicans are mad at Bill Frist for supporting stem-cell research or how Pat Robertson is praying for illness and death on left-leaning Supreme Court justices. I hadn't realized how nice it could be to get away from all that. In fact, I was reluctant to even pick up the paper this morning.

The newspapers in London had very little American news, other than John Bolton's appointment, and very little news about their own political foolishness. No stories about how the exchequer is mad at the home minister or anything like that. The only domestic political controversy I read about followed a member of Parliament blaming the July 7 bombings on Tony Blair, and he was hastily and harshly criticized by other MPs. Unlike the big divide that has characterized our politics at least since Clinton was first voted in, Brits seem to be more agreeable about things. And that puts them pretty far to the left of us.

British newspapers are notoriously bad, content to scream large headlines about any homicide (There aren't many) or accident, and the grislier the better. They also love celebrity gossip, especially anything concerning David Beckham and the former Posh Spice. The big divide seems to be the one concerning Manchester United vs. Arsenal. Politics? Well, that's for those stuffy guys gathered under Big Ben to figure out. In the meantime, what's the latest on Jessica Simpson?

At the risk of sounding like the tourist who becomes a know-it-all after one week in Britain, I would suggest this supposed apathy partly results from a somewhat less democratic and constitutional government than ours. Brits lack access to many government records we Americans are able to see, and their judiciary liberally restrains newspapers from printing stories that could reflect poorly on the government or its officials. So there goes any investigative journalism, and there goes a lot of government scrutiny. In its place is tabloid crap, and the average citizen comes out the loser. But he doesn't seem terribly up-in-arms about it.

Perhaps there's something else at work here, namely a greater sense of perspective. The English are known for their level heads and cool demeanor. On the tube, riders didn't panic after the bombings that took place July 7. Oh, I'm sure they felt fearful, but they didn't show it while we were there. Mostly on the train they talked and laughed with their friends, and if they were by themselves, they read, dozed or just looked bored.

Consider that London dates back to within a hundred years of Christ's death, and compare that with our measly 400 years of recorded history. Brits have seen a lot from the Romans to Harold the Conquerer to a long, bloody succession of kings and queens. Want political intrigue? Karl Rove and Dick Cheney have nothing on Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell. Abu Graib and Guantanamo are no doubt nightmarish places, but they can't compare with the torture that ruled at the Tower of London. I would never want to trivialize Sept. 11, but consider that 20,000 Londoners were killed and 45,000 homes were destroyed by Hitler's luftwaffe. Walking last week through Churchill's underground bunker, one could palpably sense the deprivation and fear, yet courage and fortitude that carried Britain through the war. Many Londoners are still around who remember it firsthand, and few don't remember parents or grandparents who told them all about it.

With all that, I think that so-called British stiff upper lip must be imprinted in the collective DNA after two millenia. A month after the terrorist bombings and a couple of weeks after a second attempt, life is normal in London. People go about their business in the day, and fill the streets at night in a festive attempt to enjoy every nice summer evening they can in their too-short season. Are the concerned about terrorism? Of course. Who wouldn't be concerned? But hey, after 2,000 years, they've seen a lot worse.

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