April 28, 2005


Bush and the GOP in Congress have been taking some hits lately. They seem to be losing some fights and then losing it in general:

Republicans are just going insane with frustration these days. If they're mad because their candidates are being filibustered, they threaten to change the filibuster rule by fiat. If they don't like what the courts are doing, they threaten to defund the courts. If their candidate for UN ambassador is likely to get voted down in committee, they plan to report him out anyway. If they don't like your amendments to their pet bill, they unilaterally rewrite them in a display of juvenile pique.

Bush's rating are going down. Ezra Klein is saying that W part 2 is a lot like Clinton part 1. Failed major policies, appointment trouble and so on. The GOP took control of the Congress in the middle of Clinton's rocky 1st term and haven't given it back yet. Let's hope this story repeats itself. Bush's attempt to take back the momentum will be found tonight in a prime time press conference.

April 27, 2005

Not Winning the War

The War on Terror - not really a war, not really a metaphor is not going well. The numbers are in:

The number of serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled last year, according to U.S. government figures, a sharp upswing in deadly attacks that the State Department has decided not to make public in its annual report on terrorism due to Congress this week.

Overall, the number of what the U.S. government considers "significant" attacks grew to about 655 last year, up from the record of around 175 in 2003, according to congressional aides who were briefed on statistics covering incidents including the bloody school seizure in Russia and violence related to the disputed Indian territory of Kashmir.

The number of worldwide terror attacks has tripled. This doesn't really bode well for Bush policy. So the Bush administration tried to cover up these numbers:

The State Department announced last week that it was breaking with tradition in withholding the statistics on terrorist attacks from its congressionally mandated annual report. Critics said the move was designed to shield the government from questions about the success of its effort to combat terrorism by eliminating what amounted to the only year-to-year benchmark of progress.

Terrorist attacks tripled last year. Tripled.

April 26, 2005

Final Final

Look still yet another "Final" report that there were no WMD in Iraq. We went to war for false reasons. About half the country realizes this. The other half is in denial of the worst kind. For example check out the Homepage of the Weekly Standard, the magazine of smart conservatives. Not one mention of Iraq at all. Just watch, in ten years no conservative will have any memory of the Iraq war. There will be movements to ban it from textbooks. It will haunt GOP foreign policy for the entire 21st century.

April 25, 2005


San Diego Mayor Resigns - Lasted just months after beating write-in candidate.

Howard Dean: Man of the People.

James Wolcott: Mozart of the ripping Blog Post.

April 24, 2005

Fun With Words

Craigorian Chant guide to politics lesson #467: He that controls the terms of the debate controls the debate. Republicans are fighting to change the terms that are being used to describe the current round of political fights.

Check out Political Animal for the fight of "Private" v "Personal" Social Security accounts.

Check out Talking Points for the "Nuclear" v "Constitutional" option on Judges.

April 23, 2005

Put that Joint Down and Log On Man

I knew it:

Workers distracted by phone calls, e-mails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana, a British study shows.

The constant interruptions reduce productivity and leave people feeling tired and lethargic, according to a survey carried out by TNS Research and commissioned by Hewlett Packard.

April 22, 2005

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day. I myself am going to spend the day roaming the streets looking for thing I can recycle.

April 21, 2005

Behind The Headlines

I think everyone has a tendency to focus on the headlines when looking at Iraq:

Eleven die in Iraq helicopter crash

Here at Craigorian Chant we try and bring you more than headlines. Here's Steve Gillard with some in depth analysis complete with maps. Short version: The U.S. Army has not secured the county.

Iraq'd has more analysis:

But according to an internal Army study obtained by The Wall Street Journal, attacks haven't diminished: They've shifted to Iraqi targets, largely civilian. While the paper doesn't include many specifics, the Army report finds that in addition to targeting civilians, the insurgency is "staging increasingly sophisticated attacks on both Iraqi and U.S. forces," a contention that Washington Post reporters have been making for the past few weeks.

Now, the Army report doesn't dispute that attacks on U.S. troops are down since the election, which is fairly clear from a cursory look at the data. What it suggests is that the recent downward trend doesn't lead to the conclusion that the capabilities of the insurgency--the all-important, and sadly elusive, measurement--are down as well. (Which, um, was the conclusion I drew last month.) But what should we conclude?

April 20, 2005

More, More, More

Following up with the Topic we are following here at Craigorian Chant.

#1 The Pope: Get all your disappointed reactions here
and here. All kinds of good stuff at Commonweal.

#2 John Bolton: Nomination delayed, but will it be stopped? Go read The Washington Note for all the gruesome details.

#3 Iraq: Bodies piling up. See freedom stands on the bodies and can reach higher!

April 19, 2005

The New Pope

So despite a little snag trying to read the smoke signals this morning, we now have a new Pope. Joseph Ratzinger is now Pope Benedict XVI. He's pretty much the opposite of what I wanted in a new Pope:

Ratzinger, who turned 78 on Saturday, he has been head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith since 1981. In that position, he maintained strict discipline on church doctrine, including disciplining church officials who differed on church policy.

He has been the driving force behind the Vatican's crackdowns on liberation theology, religious pluralism, challenges to traditional moral teachings on issues such as homosexuality, and dissent on such issues as women's ordination.

E. J. Dionne (Who pretty much defines liberal Catholic thought for me) has some of the best stuff I've read today:

Ratzinger now carries on his battle without the charismatic support of his friend. He is proposing that the church take one aspect of John Paul's synthesis -- the battle against relativism reflected in doctrinal rigor -- and make it the late pope's central legacy. The cardinals who marched solemnly into the Sistine Chapel yesterday afternoon will be deciding if that is the right fight for the future.

The Cardinals made their choice. No movement on any doctrine seems to be what they wanted. No women Priests, no pluralism, no movement on contraception, no movement on anything. Nobody pays attention to me. Well the man is 78 years old, so we might have to do this all over again soon.

April 18, 2005

Time is not on My Side

I'm just pissed that I don't have a subscription to Time to cancel. I'm tempted to subscribe just so I can write an angry letter to then cancel my new subscription.

Time magazine has put Ann Coulter on this weeks cover!

The woman is a toxic waste dump in the middle of our political discourse. She wants to kill me.

We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors.

That is an Ann Coulter quote. Something she said. She is on the cover of Time. The outright lies of this woman are well documented. She lies. She's on the cover of Time. She wants to kill me and many of my friends. Time deserves all the spanking that can be delivered. Let's start here.

Pick a Pack of Popes

Picking the new Pope is game on today. I was briefly considering laying a bet on my favorite Godfried Daneels who at 40-1 is a pretty long shot. Francis Arinze of Nigeria is the favorite at 3-1, while some of the more obscure Cardinals are at 125-1. I was fairly certain that betting on this process would send me straight to hell however, so I will restrain myself to speculation on the outcome.

April 17, 2005

Michael Schiavo is a Good Man

When a former Secretary of Labor named Ray Donovan was exonerated after a highly public trial he famously declared "Where do I go to get my reputation back?" Americablog has a good post up about how the husband of Terri Schiavo, who was subjected to the worst abuse possible, is innocent:

Michael Schiavo got poor press for a number of reasons: he tried to keep his wife's plight from being turned into a media circus, he didn't court the media, he refused to taunt and bait his parents with outrageous accusations the way they attacked him, he didn't align himself with fringe groups willing to exploit the situation for their own ends (some of whom didn't give a damn what Terri may have wanted, by their own admission) and so on. But reason number one was an MSM that didn't do its job.

Now that they have a chance to right some of those wrongs and make clear the spurious allegations against Michael Schiavo were unfounded, the MSM can't be bothered. Because clearing someone's good name isn't nearly as important as besmirching it.

While I think the best thing for everyone in this case would be no more press, they could spend five minutes clearing Michael Schiavo.

April 16, 2005

News of the Weird

Adam Sandler's Wedding Singer to become Broadway Musical.

Zoo Wants Chimpanzee to Stop Smoking.

John Bolton, a man with no diplomatic skills at all, is going to be our lead diplomat to the UN.

Addition: Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov Hit Over Head With Chessboard. You see, it's ironic.

April 15, 2005

My Guy For Pope

Sure it's completely secret and holy and everything, but picking the next Pope is a political act. I just have to pick sides somehow. TNR has a good round-up of the Papable and the case for each here. I found my guy: Godfried Danneels, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels:

The 72-year-old cardinal is the former head of International Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement, and has been unusually outspoken for a man who aspires to his church's highest position. In the past few years, Danneels has urged his colleagues to debate controversial questions such as whether an ailing pope should be encouraged, or even forced, to resign; whether women should be allowed to fill top Vatican posts; and whether condoms are an appropriate tool in the fight against AIDS.

Of course, not being a Cardinal, I don't have a lot to say in the matter.

April 14, 2005

Cliff Upcoming

Word on the street (Which I get from TPM and NewDonkey who get it from this guy) Is that the GOP in the House is going to move ahead with a version of SS reform that:

Push through a Social Security privatization bill with no new revenues and no benefit cuts.
I can barely begin to imagine how much you'd have to borrow--or cut from guaranteed benefits--to pay for this woofer, but we are probably talking about many trillions. I'm sure Josh or Max or somebody will soon enlighten us.

What these guys are talking about is incuring Trillions of dollars in costs and not paying for them. Simply not paying for them. Even the "full faith and credit" of the United States is up for incurring that kind of debt. And if you are wondering if your particular tax bracket will be screwed by this policy, the answer is yes. There is hope however:

But now it seems a few of the ultras in the House have convinced themselves that it's actually good politics to vote on it, send it over to the senate, and if it dies there blame the Democrats.

This would be a smart and gutsy strategy if phase-out were popular. But since every public poll available seems to show that it's not popular at all, it's not immediately clear why letting the Democrats stop this unpopular bill in the senate would necessarily be a bad thing for them. Indeed, common sense would suggest that stopping an unpopular piece of legislation would be something they'd be happy to do.

April 13, 2005

America Held Hostage

Keen study of American political history that I am I recall that American hostages in Iran became a metaphor for American weakness and lead to the end of Jimmy Carter's Presidency. Of course in the age of Bush American Hostages in Iraq must be a metaphor for ...um... strength and freedom. Yeah, strength and freedom!

Our hearts go out to Mr. Ake and his family.

Paris Hilton Protection Act

One benifit of the wastland that is "realitiy" television is that people opposed to the elimination of the estate tax have a perfect poster child. Not giving Paris Hilton a tax cut is the new favorite argument against this amazing bad tax cut. Everybody is using it. I recomend E. J. Dionne:

In a little-noticed estimate confirmed by his office yesterday, Stephen Goss, the highly respected Social Security actuary, has studied how much of the Social Security financing gap could be filled by a reformed estate tax. What would happen if, instead of repealing the tax, Congress left it in place at a 45 percent rate, and only on fortunes that exceeded $3.5 million -- which would be $7 million for couples? That, by the way, is well below where the estate tax stood when President Bush took office and would eliminate more than 99 percent of estates from the tax. It reflects the substantial reduction that would take effect in 2009 under Bush's tax plan.

According to Goss, a tax at that level would cover one-quarter of the 75-year Social Security shortfall. The Congressional Budget Office has a more modest estimate of the shortfall. Applying Goss's numbers means that if CBO is right, the reformed estate tax would cover one-half of the Social Security shortfall.

And Political Animal:

I actually understand the gut appeal of estate tax repeal. After all, when you die don't you want to decide who gets your money? And yet, Democrats' inability to make the counterargument stick is telling. The only thing being taxed is estates of robber baron size; the only people being taxed are the pampered children of the robber barons; and the cost of repeal is on the order of $1 trillion per decade. Apply that to Social Security and the system would still be solvent when Captain Kirk retired.

So a few thousand indolent kids like Paris Hilton get to pay for their Roman bacchanalias tax free while a couple hundred million ordinary working folks get the shaft. That's the party of moral values for you.

When is a terrorist not a terrorist?

Eric Rudolph, a "serial bomber" who committed a series of deadly bombings within the US, pled guilty in federal court last week to four bombings, and will serve four consecutive life sentences for the attacks. His attacks included:

  • The 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing which killed two people and injured more than 100 other people,
  • The 1997 bombing of the Atlanta Northside Family Planning Service, which also included a second bomb which was timed to go off as medical personnel, firefighters, police and other law enforcement officers worked to secure the scene and evacuate people from the area,
  • The 1997 bombing of the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta, which injured 5 people,
  • The 1998 Birmingham bombing outside the New Woman All Women Health Care Clinic which killed a police officer and severely injured the head nurse.

Rudolph was a member of militant fundamentalist Christian group, the Army of God, which wants an end to abortion and the "new world order".
As part of the plea bargain to escape the death penalty Rudolph revealed the location of 250lbs of TNT and a bomb with detonator that he had hidden in the mountains of North Carolina, which suggests that further attacks were planned.

What struck me about this when listening to an NPR story about Rudolph this weekend is the fact that the coverage of this story does not include the word "terrorist".

My question for the readers of The Chant, is when should a criminal be described a terrorist? Obviously the term is appropriately applied to members of Al-qaeda, but what about the insurgent forces within Iraq? What about the insurgent forces within Ireland? Do radical Christians deserve the same label as radical Muslims? What about eco-terrorists and drug dealers?

Craig's 2 cents: Check out this FoxNews memo on how to cover Rudolph.

April 12, 2005

Links and things

Stealing the best stuff from around the web.

Chris has found some shelter from the (religious conservative) storm.

Craigorian Chant still not found on David Horowitz's enemies list. Will redouble efforts.

American health care system does, in fact, suck. Relatively.

The only thing you need to read about the Royal Wedding also contains this priceless bit:

By contrast, the U.S. presidency is an ego-inflating machine. The president moves in a vast imperial cocoon, unsurpassed in grandeur since the pharaohs. It would take a level of humility incompatible with running for public office in the first place for a president not to think, "Hey, I'm a pretty cool guy." Every time George W. Bush hears "Hail to the Chief," the odds go up that some unsuspecting country is going to find itself getting violently democratized.

April 11, 2005

Down He Goes

You know I never get tired talking about how the President's poll numbers are:

Did you notice this one? A Gallup-CNN-USA Today poll at the end of last week found that 50 percent of American adults now believe that the Bush administration “deliberately misled” them about why we had to go to war in Iraq. It seems fair to say that the average respondent will have understood that “deliberately misled” is a polite way of saying the word “lie”; so, in sum, every other American adult believes the president and his apparatchiks lied us into war.

That’s an astonishing fact: The president of the United States has no credibility with half of the adult citizenry on a defining question of his tenure that happens to have sent more than 1,500 young Americans to their graves (and in another recent poll, 53 percent said the war wasn’t worth the costs). This was never remotely true of Bill Clinton or any modern president going back decades. George W. Bush defenders will invoke Harry Truman, but while it’s true that Truman was profoundly unpopular at the end of his second term over the Korean War, the American people at least didn’t blame him for lying us into it.

Personally I think the Iraq War will ruin Bush, not just now but for all time. Just my opinion and those of half my fellow Americans.

April 10, 2005

The Week Ahead

The nomination of John Bolton goes before the senate on Monday. The Washington Note is your one-stop shopping for trying to stop this one man diplomatic incident. This one is about saving American lives. Every diplomatic relationship that John Bolton screws up is going to cost the US influence, money and blood when the next crisis comes. Diplomacy is not about making other people feel good. It's about making the world safer for Americans. That's not what John Bolton will do. He will cost us. And not good feeling. Lives.

Judge Sentences Spammer to Nine Years

I mean I think I said that freaking Spammers should be locked up, but did I mean it?

Jaynes, 30, who was considered among the top 10 spammers in the world at the time of his arrest, used the Internet to peddle pornography and sham products and services such as a "FedEx refund processor," prosecutors said. Thousands of people fell for his e-mails, and prosecutors said Jaynes' operation grossed up to $750,000 per month.

Jaynes was convicted in November for using false Internet addresses and aliases to send mass e-mail ads through an AOL server in Loudoun County, where America Online is based. Under Virginia law, sending unsolicited bulk e-mail itself is not a crime unless the sender masks his identity.

While prosecutors presented evidence of just 53,000 illegal e-mails, authorities believe Jaynes was responsible for spewing out 10 million e-mails a day. Prosecutors said Jaynes made millions of dollars from the illegal venture.

This guy seems like just the type who should be prosecuted, but nine years seems rather steep to me. A guy shouldn't get nine years just for making us hit the delete key a few extra times. Of course it really seems that this guy was running a con, not just spamming.

Quote of the Day

It's not just that they have no shame, it's that they once met shame on a street, beat the shit out of him, rolled him up in a carpet, and threw him off a bridge. And don't even ask me about the nightmare they put truth through.

Ezra Klein of the Blog Ezra Klein. Dude, Get a clever Blog Title.

April 9, 2005


While we're floating ideas and theories about why Bush’s approval ratings are falling, I can’t pass up this brilliant piece of analysis from National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson. Hanson advances the theory that Bush’s foreign policy brilliance has raised expectations so much on the domestic front that Bush is now falling short:

But I think the answer lies instead in a strange paradox of George W. Bush and the optimistic prospects he has raised about solving problems of the first order. The President has shown himself so resolute in matters of foreign policy that he has raised the bar of his expected performance on the home front.
That is, by standing nearly alone in the Middle East, by never wavering in the face of unprecedented venom, and by weathering everything from Abu Ghraib to the televised beheadings, Bush has established himself a man of principle who welcomes the chance to offer unpopular but needed solutions to real crises.

If Jimmy Carter, Bush I, or Bill Clinton were president, most Americans would shrug that these are impracticable problems. But not with George W. Bush, whose forcefulness abroad makes us think he will similarly swagger in and solve equally unpopular dilemmas at home.

That’s right, the theory is that Bush walks on water in foreign policy matters and that’s what’s hurting him. Hanson is a historian by trade and has written some interesting stuff, so it is sad that he’s trying to rewrite the history of the Iraq war. In the real world, the Iraq critics are ones who are right:

Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr. is a conservative Republican from North Carolina who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq. So it jarred all the more yesterday when Jones turned his fury on Richard N. Perle, the Pentagon adviser who provided the Bush administration with brainpower for the Iraq war.
Jones, who said he has signed more than 900 condolence letters to kin of fallen soldiers, pronounced himself "incensed" with Perle. "It is just amazing to me how we as a Congress were told we had to remove this man . . . but the reason we were given was not accurate," Jones told Perle at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Jones said the administration should "apologize for the misinformation that was given. To me there should be somebody who is large enough to say 'We've made a mistake.' I've not heard that yet."
As chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, Perle had gone before the same committee in 2002 and smugly portrayed retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark, who urged caution in Iraq, as "hopelessly confused" and spouting "fuzzy stuff" and "dumb clich├ęs."
Thirty months and one war later, Perle and Clark returned to the committee yesterday. But this time lawmakers on both sides hectored Perle, while Clark didn't bother to suppress an "I told you so."

April 8, 2005


I am a firm believer that timing is everything in life - love, money, comedy - everything comes down to timing. Which brings us to the fustrating fact that Bush's job approval ratings have tanked about six months too late:

Bush's job approval is at 44 percent, with 54 percent disapproving.

If only 7% of the American people could have come to this decision six months sooner. Timing people, timing. But the real good news is that the GOP Congress is also in trouble:

Only 37 percent have a favorable opinion of the work being done by the Republican-controlled Congress.

These shmucks are up for reelection in 06. Charge!

April 7, 2005

Quote of the Day

This is like being for the Civil Rights Bill in 1960. You may not win but it makes you feel good and you're on the right side."

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla talking about Social Security Privatization.

via Pandagon.

West Wing

Matthew Ygesias thinks the West Wing is getting the politics wrong with Alan Alda's moderate GOPer:

The idea of a pro-choice atheist securing the Republican nomination is absurd. Beyond that, the idea that such a nominee would be an unusually strong candidate posing serious problems for the Democratic Party is double absurd, some kind of Christie Todd Whitman fantasy universe. You know how liberals are always wondering why it's not possible to get working class white people to vote pocketbook issues instead of culture war concerns? Well, it's because Republicans don't nominate pro-choice atheists. Give it a shot, and the GOP is fucked. To be sure, such a candidate would help Republicans make some inroads among the white professional wanker crowd, but it would do absolutely nothing to help the party with the African-Americans, Hispanics, or union families who together comprise a majority of the Democratic base. Indeed, it would manage to drive Democratic margins among the latter two categories even higher. Simultaneously, Republican support among its largest base group would flatline.

The show did skip the part of how this guys wins the nod. But I think Matt gets it wrong is that Alda's threat comes from Character and Geography. Much is made of how good a campaigner he is and his great McCain-style strait talk. The other thing that make him strong is that he's from California. A GOP with California locked up causes real trouble for the Dem's electoral Congress. Remember WW isn't real it just has to seem real.

April 6, 2005

Is Delay Gone?

Somewhere in the disaster area that is my room is a Time magazine from 1998 that has on it's cover "The Fall of Newt." It looks like we might be gearing up for "The Fall of Delay." The scandals are coming not as single soldiers, but battalions. (Cool Graphics for those who don't like to read) In fact, Tapped is worried that if DeLay goes now we won't have him to kick around in the 2006 elections. MyDD thinks that he can hold on. I'm incline to believe that Delay has too much sway with his party in Congress to be shoved out the side door. If he holds on and Bush keeps going down in the polls the GOP could be radioactive by the 2006 mid-terms.

April 5, 2005

It's Good to Be the Swing

Catholics are now swing voters in this country. That means that, as a group, they could vote for either party in any given election. Unlike religious conservatives (R) or African-Americans(D) they don't have strong ties to either party. Which of course leads to a lot of ass-kissing. For example, from Political Animal we learn that Bush has ordered flags lowered to half staff, which is not something normally done. Bush and Conservatives are doing all they can to use the Pope's death to snuggle up to Catholics in this country. Just look at FoxNews these days. Of course, they didn't like the Pope when he opposed Bush's Iraq War, but remember the GOP has no sense of irony.

April 4, 2005

John Bolton must be Stopped

Democracy Arsenal is a new blog set up to provide foreign policy debate from the left. This is something that we need very badly. They have done up a list of no less than Ten reasons why John Bolton must not become ambassador to the UN.

Reason #10: He hates the UN!

If you really need the rest Go Read.

April 3, 2005

I Like Sin City and That's Bad

I am rather disturbed by how much I enjoyed Sin City. The movie is a visual knockout. There are sceens and shots that are just sheer black and white (with a touch of color) amazing. Think of the best of movies and the best black and white photography and the best graphic novel frames and you will get an idea of how good Sin City is visually. The dialog and characters are delivered by the Hollywood A-list and are as hard boiled as they come. And I mean put an egg on the stove, leave it on when you leave for the weekend, your house burns down and somewhere in the ashes is an egg that is almost as hard boiled as they talk in this movie.

This movie is also a bloody mess. And I do mean a lot of blood, very little of it red. It comes out white, black and yellow. There are a whole lot of very nasty people doing an unbelievable number of nasty things and those are the good guys. And I was rooting for those good guys. So I'm little worried about my moral center. Do that mean that all you need to do is make it visually stunning and I'll embrace the worst violence ever? I mean, I'm helping to pick a Pope here. This is not good.

My People are Cool

Don't believe me? Read all about. Claire and Mark are some of the coolest people I know and I know a lot of cool people. Read all about their wine. If we raise their profile some more they should be able to raise their prices.

Also here's my Mother, without whom I would be nothing, getting some media attention for her latest building. Hi Mom!


The Italian word for possible papal candidates. The guessing game on who will be the next Pope is on in earnest. Here's what I want in a Pope, not that anyone is asking. I would want someone who would continue John Paul II outreach to other religions and international travel while easing up on the social issues, particularly women in the clergy and contraception. I don't get worked up over the Church being Pro-Life mainly because the Pope can't outlaw abortion and I have no problem with the Pope using moral persuading to reduce the number of abortions. But for the Catholic Church to make a sin of contraception in the age of AIDS and a growing church in the 3rd World is criminal. Female Priests is a fairly "duh" move for woman's equality and could go a long way to addressing the shortage of Priests that the Church faces. If any of the Cardinals call me up and ask my opinion, that's what I'll tell them. I'll be waiting by my phone.

Screw the media

A personal ad on Craig's list (the other one):
LMJ seeks SOB for S&M.

April 2, 2005

Pope John Paul II Dies

The Pope has died. I'm 27 years old and while by no measure can I be currently considered a good Catholic, I received a full Catholic upbringing including a multi-year stint as a alter boy. I've never known a Pope other than John Paul II. The debate on his historic legacy is well under way, but one of the priestly commentators on the TV said that he will one day be called John Paul the Great and my guess is he is right. There is a lot to chew over. Now this is a political blog so we are going to pay attention to the upcoming Papal Election. Here's some early handicapping from Slate. The main issues will be where the new Pope comes from and theologically stands. All of this comes with a word of caution:

Though it's tempting (and fun) to view the papal selection like the Iowa caucuses - all about voting blocks, spin, and positioning - this is still, on some level, a highly personal and spiritual decision. There may be a cardinal who is all wrong for the political reasons listed above but who's viewed by his peers as a truly holy individual. Many people believe the Holy Spirit will be guiding the cardinals' deliberations, and God may have his own views on this, Paddypower.com notwithstanding.

April 1, 2005

April Fool

Pat Buchanan Doused with Salad Dressing.

The real Fools are the Religious Conservative who the GOP is playing for fools.

As a supporter of gay rights, I'm happy that Bush hasn't pushed the issue. But why aren't the leaders of the Christian conservative movement, who regard gay marriage as a threat to Western civilization, unhappy? The answer is that they've been co-opted. Republicans will help the social conservative cause but rarely spend any political capital on it. Take the Schiavo case, which supposedly demonstrates the social conservatives' power. Sure, Bush flew across the country to sign a bill "protecting" her. But as soon as polls showed the public disapproved of Washington's intervention, Bush dropped the issue like a hot potato.

The main social conservative groups exist mainly to persuade rank-and-file social conservatives to support an agenda to which they have no natural allegiance. High on the Christian Coalition's list of its top legislative priorities, for instance, are cutting taxes (No. 2) and privatizing Social Security (No. 4), two issues that did not receive heavy emphasis in the Sermon on the Mount. Their top issue — confirming Bush's judicial nominees — does have a social angle. But in point of fact, conservative judges have been far more aggressive in overturning regulations on business than in turning back the clock on abortion or gay rights. That's why business groups have raised millions of dollars to help confirm Bush's judges.

I suspect that, behind closed doors, most Washington Republicans take religious conservatives for suckers.

Social Conservatives will never win on their issues, no matter how many Republicans they help elect. The culture is passing them by and the GOP can't do a thing about the culture. So the religious right marches to polls, the gays don't go away and every year it becomes a little harder to make ends meet. Every government institution that supports the middle class is slowly ground up, Sin City becomes the number one movie in America and struggling religious conservative wonder why if Bush and Delay have all the power, why are their lives getting harder? Suckers.