Politics: October 2003 Archives

Happy Marriage Protection Week! Yup, it's finally arrived. Our chief theocrat has decreed that this very week be so honored, in lieu of the threat posed by fags and lezzies.

I don't think I've even alluded to the subject of marriage on this site before. It just doesn't interest me. In fact it normally disgusts me. Maybe it's mostly an aesthetic thing. But this is just ridiculous, and I just can't keep out of it. I'm still no fan of marriage in any form, and I suspect I'm not alone in believing that the real threat has always been to the unmarried. That has obviously not changed.

Still, Marc Morford is pretty persuasive as he nears the end of his tribute to Simpleton's proclamation with these generous thoughts on the subject, brilliantly articulated:

Let's make this perfectly clear: Marriage does not need protection. Traditional marriage does not need any forcible recommitment by right-wing Christian zealots who try to force everyone into little shiny happy heterosexual SUV-sized boxes of sameness and sanctimony and bad rented tuxedos and engraved gravy boats.

In fact, much like the church and the concept of "family" and Jenna Bush, marriage needs to be busted wide open. Marriage needs to be allowed to move and progress and dance as the culture moves, as consciousness progresses, as times and mores change, recognizing along the way that what might have been some toxic nuclear-family ideal in 1953 holds nearly zero relevance today, and in fact only makes us more uptight and rigid and confused.

Marriage needs to be tickled until it screams. Marriage needs to be stripped down and sprayed with whipped cream and licked all over. Marriage needs to be blown apart with the dynamite of new possibility and put back together again in ten thousand different kaleidoscopic configurations, each one encouraged and celebrated and applauded, even those that don't involve ridiculously expensive cakes and tepid church ceremonies and the bride zonked on Valium as the groom slams another scotch to calm his nerves.

This is the only way. Evolve or die, honey. Because it's exactly when you try to force-fit love's modern, ever-evolving mutations into archaic, increasingly bitter boxes of ideology and Right wing-approved blandness and sactimony that the culture suffers most. Legislating love is never the answer. Hey, just ask your neighborhood Catholic priest.

The NYTimes is talking about religion this week, in articles on two successive days.

You needn't read all of what occupies more than two full pages in the print edition to realize that the conclusion is basically religion is down in happy countries and up elsewhere. Note to Americans: Faith is an expanding industry here.

Europe has all but abandoned religion. In the United States it shapes politics and society and indeed our view of the world. In the third world, Christianity in particular is growing by leaps and bounds.

The article explains that the secularization of Europe and the increasing importance of religion in the U.S. is one of the forces pushing the continents apart.

Americans are widely regarded as more comfortable with notions of good and evil, right and wrong, than Europeans, who often see such views as reckless.

In France, which is predominantly Catholic but emphatically secular, about one in 20 people attends a religious service every week, compared with about one in three in the United States.

"What's interesting isn't that there are fewer people in church," said the Rev. Jean François Bordarier of Lille, in northern France, "but that there are any at all."

Christianity is booming in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.
Here nobody, it seems, can afford not to pray.

"In countries where everything is very O.K., where they take care of their citizenry, people are very lethargic when it comes to religion and God," said Oluwayemisi Ojuolape, 27, a lawyer in Lagos, who attended this all-night vigil, called Holy Ghost Service. "They are not encouraged to ask for any help. They seem to have all of it."

I knew we need help, but more religion in America can only mean disaster. From a professor of religious studies:
"I've been struck by the way in which religion now serves to underpin the divergence between Europe and the United States, and where I particularly saw that over the last year or two was in attitudes about the Middle East," said Philip Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins is a British scholar who teaches history and religious studies in the United States and wrote "The Next Christendom" (2002), about changing patterns of Christian worship around the world.

"Americans still take biblical and religious arguments very seriously, and therefore give a credence to the Zionist project that Europeans don't," Dr. Jenkins said.

He said that for many Americans, the frequency with which President Bush invoked morality and religion in talking about the fight against terrorism was neither striking nor discomfiting. "But in Europe," he added, "they think he must be a religious nut."

Me too.


I don't get it. Who've they paid off? I walked into Washington Square Park this afternoon because I wanted to know why a construction shed had been installed at the edge of the central fountain area. It wasn't a construction shed. Instead it was the ugliest sukkah I've ever seen, and except for a door facing the fountain plaza it was fully-enclosed with plywood on all four sides. There is a hinged door and it can be locked.

A large sign along the side assigned to the door read in part:

I spotted at least a half dozen young uniformed touts trying to persuade people who identified themselves as Jews to enter the plywood box. Many did. I was asked if I were a Jew. He was very cute, but I politely replied in the negative.

Amazingly, the whole thing is the work of a very specific sectarian organization which proselytizes among Jews. It's not even close to a creche, an image of Shiva or a statue of Buddha, regardless of the lack of merit for the erection of those symbols on public property.

Because I've always thought of sukkot as the most charming of Jewish holidays, I found this cult's rude Washington Square incursion to be an assault to the senses as well as a violation of the fragile principle of a secular state. This is a New York City public park. Sukkot is a religious holiday. The sukkah is a religious symbol, if not actually a place of worship. It is also a structure. The moshiach, or messiah, is a religious concept. The city of New York should not be in the business of "gdliness." I felt very uncomfortable in the park today.

This is a bad thing, and you don't have to be an aesthete or an atheist to understand that.

Shirin Ebadi arriving at a news conference in Paris today

In a brilliant decision by the committee in Oslo, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to an Iranian lawyer and former judge, Shirin Ebadi, who becomes the first Muslim woman to win the award.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Ebadi -- Iran's first female judge before the 1979 Islamic revolution forced her to step down in favor of men -- for battling to defend the rights of women and children.

. . . .

The five-member committee said Ebadi, jailed several times during her career and once branded a threat to the Islamic system, was a "sound professional" and a "courageous person" who had "never heeded threats to her own safety."

"We hope that the prize will be an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Muslim world, and in all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support," the committee said.

Her most serious rival in the competition, Karol Wojtyla, the Catholic monarch, must have been greatly disappointed, and sour grapes were served in Poland and the Vatican today.
Ebadi, 56, won from a record field of 165 candidates including Pope John Paul and ex-Czech President Vaclav Havel. Many hailed the award but former Polish President Lech Walesa, the 1983 Nobel winner, said the Polish pope should have won.

. . . .

A prize to the ailing pope or to Havel could have been too much like a long-service award when Alfred Nobel, the Swedish founder of the awards, said he wanted to inspire "dreamers."

Many researchers say that the pope's opposition to birth control, pre-marital sex, homosexuality and female priests seemed intolerant to many Norwegians, especially women, despite a 25-year-reign devoted to peace and religious reconciliation [on his own terms].

Three of the five Nobel committee members are women. One Vatican official sniffed: "I thought this was a peace prize and not a prize in sexual ethics."

. . . .

Walesa slammed the committee for passing over the pope. "I have nothing against this lady, but if there is anyone alive who deserves this year's Nobel Peace Prize it is the Holy Father," he said.

For more on only one enormously important part of Wojtyla's record, see bloggy.

[image from REUTERS/John Schults]

No, I haven't posted a thing on that subject today. In fact I've never posted anything on that subject. I find it unspeakable and in fact entirely beyond words. Although it's a luxury in which I will almost certainly regret indulging myself, I've decided I can pretend it just didn't happen.

Good night.

And they're too stupid to be able to carry it off - unless we're equally stupid.

Bush says we may never know who did it, but in the meantime the White House lawyers are going over every document before it is handed over to the Justice Department (which is itself under White House authority) pursuant to a federal criminal investigation requested by the CIA.

I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is," Bush told reporters after he met with his Cabinet. "I'd like to. I want to know the truth."
Two weeks?
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 — White House lawyers will spend up to two weeks screening responses turned in by roughly 2,000 staff members asked what they know, if anything, about the unauthorized disclosure of an undercover CIA officer’s identity.
The disclosure of criminal activity was originally made months before any investigation was initiated, and even once the Justice Department finally had to announce its interest it did not immediately order the White House to preserve potentially relevant documents. The Department, in originally notifying the White House of the probe on the night of Monday, September 29, told its counsel he could wait until Tuesday morning to instruct the White House staff to preserve records. Ten or so very useful hours were lost. New York's Senator Schumer:
"Every seasoned prosecutor will tell you that the first thing that must be done when an investigation begins is the preservation of evidence and documents."
Oy veh!

But we'll get the documents, and Bush will fall in the end - unless he makes another war.

I've located the complete statement I described yesterday in which Bush announced that "Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." Silly us. After all the fuss it appears right on the White House website, in the section, "Jobs & Economic Growth."

The context is described as remarks delivered at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee yesterday morning. This is the entire paragraph:

We have more work to do in Iraq. A free Iraq, a peaceful Iraq will help change an area of the world that needs peace and freedom. A peaceful Iraq and a free Iraq is part of our campaign to rid the world of terror. And that's why the thugs in Iraq still resist us, because they can't stand the thought of free societies. They understand what freedom means. See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction. [my italics] There will be a free and peaceful Iraq. What's taking place in Iraq is the evolution of a society, to be democratic in nation -- nature, a society in which the people are better off.
So there it is, boys and girls.

[thanks again to atrios, and to lunaville for the link itself]

I haven't seen it yet in a written report from the commercial media, but according to Atrios, Bush said just moments ago, "Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction."

Apparently those who watched CNN couldn't have missed this one.

There will be more to follow, I'm sure.

Le Scandale Plame: The Adventure Begins

It's been a very good day.

Technical note: Interestingly, the expression, "nonchalant," is no longer in the French language itself:

Etymology: French, from Old French, from present participle of nonchaloir to disregard, from non- + chaloir to concern, from Latin calEre to be warm -- more at LEE
Date: circa 1734
: having an air of easy unconcern or indifference
synonym see COOL


[caption and image of Bush and Rove from busybusybusy]

Sometimes you just gotta speculate. Sometimes you just can't wait for others to get around to telling you what's happening. Besides, I admit I have some spare time.

This comes from my brother in Washington, who writes, "Here is a 'must-read' article on the current Coup d'Etat." If you read billmon's ruminations, you'll wonder which Coup he means. Yes! I thought that would pique some interest!

The billmon post links to Brad De Long's amazing, much longer piece in order to speculate about why the CIA has taken upon itself such a heavy role in l'Affaire Plame. [I feel the urge to use French as much as possible these days.]

But the more I watch the story unfold, the more I think something deeper and darker is at stake. It seems the top career elite at the CIA, plus Tenet, has pulled out all the stops to try to bust up the Rove machine. That suggests they're worried about something much bigger than just bureaucratic turf or the WMD blame game.
I can't do Bro justice with a proper credit for the heads-up, since he doesn't have a weblog, and because I have to protect his anonymity, but I know you'd really like him.

And finally the country is beginning to understand why.

The essential story to this day, of one very-developing White House scandal, from today's editorial of the Minneapolis Star Tribune via atrios.

Call it Wilson-Plame-gate. It's not about cigars and blue dresses; it's about the security of this nation and the danger of revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative. In a word, it is serious.
And getting even more serious:
The Justice Department has responded affirmatively to Tenet's request for an investigation. But get this: When Justice informed the White House of the investigation Monday evening, it said it would be all right if the staff was notified Tuesday morning to safeguard all material that related to the case. The staff had all night to get rid of anything incriminating.

That incredible tidbit supports calls by Democrats and a slew of others for Attorney General John Ashcroft to appoint a special counsel to investigate this case. They're right: Ashcroft has no credibility in this, and neither does the White House, given its habitual effort to spin information, mislead the American people and smear anyone who disagrees with it. This developing scandal ultimately goes to the even more serious question of administration manipulation of intelligence on Iraq, where American soldiers continue to die almost every day in a campaign that looks increasingly like a bad mistake.

Read the entire editorial.

Oh yes, there's a welcome tribute to bloggers, specifically in a generous acknowledgement that it was they and their audiences that kept the Wilson/Plame story from going away.

One more thing. Can't we drop the "-gate", especially since this thing's bigger than an apartment building, and call just call it what it is, "treason"? Ok, maybe "the Plame affair" would do.

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from October 2003.

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