Saturday, October 13, 2007

Now, Has She Gone Too Far?

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

I think Ann Coulter goes too far every time she opens her mouth. I thought she went too far when she said, of Muslims, that, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." I thought she went too far when she said that you can't be anorexic if you have a boyfriend. I thought she went too far when she said advocated revoking women's suffrage. I thought she went too far when... This is tedious. I'll be here all day. Here's a pretty good list.

That Ann Coulter continues to have a career as a political pundit stands as a daily reminder of how much trouble we are in as a country. But this time she may really and truly have gone too far. Not because she advocated turning this country into a theocracy, which alarmingly few people seem concerned about. But, because now she's given the lie to they myth that the Christian right isn't, at heart, anti-Semitic. Sure the ex-girlfriend of Bob Guccioni, Jr., who once said that because she was unmarried there was nothing immoral about sleeping with a different man every night, is an unlikely spokesperson for the family values set, but she has set herself up as one repeatedly. Her horrific performance on CNBC's "The Big Idea," was such an instance, as she regaled her Jewish host, Donny Deutsch, with stories about the wholesomeness of all the "megachurches," where she frequently lectures.

Her aggressive proselytizing of poor Deutsch, and admonition that Jews must be "perfected" by accepting Christ, has touched off a firestorm that may put even Coulter's natural allies on alert. Insulting Jews does nothing to advance a rightwing agenda. Consider the number of Jewish neoconsertives, or what a force AIPAC is to reckon with, for both parties. Let alone Republicans who want to bomb Iran... or, as they put it, "transform the Middle East." (Although, so far, David Horowitz is gaffing off any concern about her remarks.)

Coulter's latest verbal tick underscores one of the dirty little secrets of the Christian Zionist movement; that they are using Jews to bring about the rapture, after which they fully expect them to go to hell.

The issue is spelled out in segment three (above) of recent edition of "Bill Moyer's Journal," when Rabbi Lerner and evangelical Christian Dr. Timothy Weber address the concept of dispensationalism and how disadvantageous it is to Jews who wish to remain Jews, rather than converting to Christianity.

BILL MOYERS: Before we go any further, give me a shorthand definition of dispensationalism.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Dispensationalism is a particular way of reading Bible prophecy which divides the Bible into two stories. There's a story about God's earthly people, Israel. And then a story about God's heavenly people, the Church. And the basic premise of dispensationalism is that all Bible prophecies concerning earthly events applies to the Jews. And all of those events will be fulfilled literally in the End Times. So, Israel must be returned to the land. They must stay in the land. Without Israel in the land, there can be none of the other events prophesied in the Bible. There can be no rise of Anti-Christ. There can be no rebuilding of the Temple. There can be no Battle of Armageddon. And there can be no second coming of Jesus Christ. So everything is riding on the Jews, getting them there and keeping them there in the Holy Land.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: But I think-- but what you have to add in there is that when this is a step in the process that they see towards the end of end times in which the Jews will be cast down into eternal damnation and to the fires of hell. And only those Jews who convert to Christianity will be okay. And everyone -- all the rest of us so they're welcoming us now -- with open arms and saying, "Oh, we love the Jewish people" But they love the Jewish people literally to death because they they want see those of us who stay Jews burn in hell but not-- not right away. They don't imagine it will happen right away. So there's a staged process. And this is the first stage in the process that will eventually lead either to us converting totally to Christianity or burning in hell. So it's not a really great future for the Jews that those theological people have in mind.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Deny, Deny, Deny - The GOP Weapon Against Gore

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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And the GOP Smear Machine wasted no time going after Gore - the first volley shot by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. "Morning Joe" started with the lies about Gore's use of private jets (fact, Gore uses airlines) and the rest of the show went downhill after that.

The only weapon the GOP has anymore are lies. And it is getting very hard to stand behind those lies when the climate is going to hell all around us. Atlanta only has 12 weeks of water supply left, many parts of the country are experiencing summer weather and most of the Arctic ice pack is gone. Should that be a surprise since the temperatures have hovered near the 70's all summer? Now an adventure to the North Pole takes the same preparation as an April trip to Myrtle Beach - sunblock and a light windbreaker.

Lastly, someone should think about drafting Gore to run for President. Really.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bush v. Congress: Armenian Genocide

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

As discussed here and here, there is still ongoing debate over whether or not the mass slaughter of Armenians at the hands of the Young Turks qualifies as a "genocide." A symbolic piece of legislation, pressed by Speaker Pelosi and approved by committee to go to the full Congress, hours ago, would acknowledge the Armenian genocide. This, over President Bush's objections, as he moves aggressively to sideline it.

President Bush and two top cabinet members urged lawmakers today to reject a resolution describing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians early in the last century as genocide — a highly sensitive issue at a time of rising tensions with Turkey over northern Iraq.

“We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people that began in 1915,” Mr. Bush said in a brief statement from the White House. “But this resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to relations with a key ally in NATO and to the war on terror.”

. . .

Adding to the tensions are the recent Turkish preparations for a possible invasion of northern Iraq in an effort to stop lethal incursions by armed Kurdish militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

. . .

When the resolution seemed likely to reach a vote last spring, Ms. Rice and Mr. Gates joined in a strongly worded letter to Ms. Pelosi warning against passage. They repeated their arguments Wednesday.

“The passage of this resolution at this time would be very problematic for everything we are trying to do in the Middle East,” Ms. Rice said.

Yes, acknowledging that Armenians were subject to a genocide would make President Bush's job even harder and we all know that being President is hard work. But one must truly wonder where all that "moral clarity" he's so famous for goes when it's inconvenient. Over this, he wants to be a diplomat?!

So, was what happened to the Armenians a genocide? According to the late Raphael Lemkin, who created the word "genocide," and spent his life pressing for international law forbidding it, it most definitely was.

The Crime With No Name

“I became interested in genocide because it happened to the Armenians; and after[wards] the Armenians got a very rough deal at the Versailles Conference because their criminals were guilty of genocide and were not punished. ”

-- Raphael Lemkin

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Rushtard - Phony Soldiers Explained!

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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We have all heard the complete tape of Rush Limbaugh calling soldiers who served in Iraq, been shot at and some wounded and others killed, "phony soldiers."

Being the soldier advocate that I am, I cannot believe Rush actually meant what he said. No one can be that callous, can they?

So I looked into the issue deeply.

Rush may have been using the term "phony" to refer to the root "phon":

The phon is a unit of perceived loudness level LN for pure tones. The purpose of the phon scale is to compensate for the effect of frequency on the perceived loudness of tones.

Maybe the soldiers were too loud - or the sound of war is loud. As the old saying goes, the Army does two things - break things and make big noises. Rush could have been making a general statement in reference to shock and awe, or maybe noise pollution?

The other use of the root is for telephone:

The telephone is a telecommunications device which is used to transmit and receive sound (most commonly speech). Most telephones operate through transmission of electric signals over a complex telephone network which allows almost any phone user to communicate with almost anyone.

It could be the soldiers don't have enough phone time to talk to loved ones back home? Inter-family communications during war is a lifeline to some. There have been truckloads of books excerpting letters from American soldiers at war to their spouses for example. Maybe Rush is really advocating better phone service for the soldiers?

The last possibility deals with Apple Computer. If you Google "phone," the first item returned is Apple's iPhone page. It is a fact that Rush is a lifelong Apple Computer fan and maybe he is venting his frustration that soldiers deployed do not have access to the iPhone, so he might be using a turn on words and calling cheap Chinese knock-offs a "phon-E." have we been doing all this handing-wringing over a mis-typed transcript?

But there is a problem with my theory - Rush Limbaugh is deaf.

Nuff said.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Andrew Sullivan Notices Nazi Parallel

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers' Alliance, and My Left Wing.

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

-- President George W. Bush

"The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan."

-- Adolf Hitler in "Mein Kampf"

It's ever so politically incorrect to compare anyone at all to the Nazis, even when the similarity is obvious, but maybe Andrew Sullivan can get away with it. He is a conservative, after all, if not a neoconservative. As Glenn Greenwald has explained, if right-wingers do it, it's all good.

In a column entitled "Bush’s torturers follow where the Nazis led," Sullivan catalogs his unfolding horror as he learned that the Bush Administration did, indeed, authorize torture. Hurts to learn that you've been a good German and enabled atrocities, doesn't it.

I remember that my first response to the reports of abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay was to accuse the accusers of exaggeration or deliberate deception. I didn’t believe America would ever do those things. I’d also supported George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the president the benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.

. . .

They redefined torture solely as something that would be equivalent to the loss of major organs or leading to imminent death. Everything else was what was first called “coercive interrogation”, subsequently amended to “enhanced interrogation”. These terms were deployed in order for the president to be able to say that he didn’t support “torture”. We were through the looking glass.

. . .

So is “enhanced interrogation” torture? One way to answer this question is to examine history. The phrase has a lineage. Verschärfte Verneh-mung, enhanced or intensified interrogation, was the exact term innovated by the Gestapo to describe what became known as the “third degree”. It left no marks. It included hypothermia, stress positions and long-time sleep deprivation.

. . .

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

I think Sully has a rather idealized image of America's past, but at least he's awakened to its present. We are now a country that worships at the altar of Jack Bauer and venerates idiocy as long as it looks really bad-ass.

"It's better to be strong and wrong than weak and right."

-- Bill Clinton

The PR Battle of Iran

Crossposted from Left Toon Lane, Bilerico Project & My Left Wing

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Seriously, there is probably a group of individuals, hunkered down in the bowels of the Pentagon or White House, coming up with a catchy phrase for when Bush bombs the ever-lovin' shit out of Iran.

They will narrow down the selection to maybe less than a dozen then they will present the selections to a series of focus groups. Once the propaganda unit has finished with the focus group (and disposed of the bodies, IMO) the selections will be narrowed to three or so slogans. The PR copy will then be sent to the speechwriters to see how the different slogans can be worked into the daily churn of BS that flows from the Administration and their lackeys. The slogan will also be tested for the President's dictum and cadence.

Once all of that has been done, the new slogan will emerge in a "slow flourish" and within a week, the slogan will be everywhere.

My choice for a slogan that probably won't get used is "the next colossal fuck-up."