Saturday, August 27, 2005

Some Good News

This is part of my new attempt to stop seeing the world through dung-colored sunglasses only, to look for the silver lining etcetera. Here is a tiny silver lining for you to enjoy with the still-threatening cloud of terrorism:

Dubai - A prominent London-based militant Islamic scholar has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, banning suicide operations of the kind carried out by followers of the al-Qaeda network.

"To my mind, these operations are closer to suicide than to martyrdom-seeking, and they are taboo and not permissible" for a number of reasons, wrote Syrian-born Abdul Menem Mustafa Halimeh, alias Abu Baseer al-Tartussi, on his website.

The Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, which reported Tartussi's fatwa on Saturday, described him as a top ideologue for Islamist militants and said his edict had provoked angry reactions on Islamist websites, with some accusing him of letting down al-Qaeda followers.

Tartussi, who adheres to the rigorous fundamentalist Salafi school and is the author of several theoretical works, said he was publishing his edict in response to repeated queries over where he stands on suicide attacks.

'These operations are closer to suicide than to maryrdom-seeking'
Among the reasons listed by Tartussi for his stance was that suicide operations "necessarily mean a person killing himself, which violates dozens of (Islamic) religious texts".

They also most often entail "wrongfully killing innocent and sacred souls, be they Muslim or otherwise", he said.

In addition, a "mujahed", or holy warrior, who is prepared to sacrifice his life is "invaluable" and "should not be condemned to death, through a bombing operation, as soon as he sets foot on the arena of jihad... as this heartens the enemies," Tartussi said.

Not how I would have phrased it but then I'm not a prominent radical Islamist thinker, and at least he condemns the killing of innocents. That his statement caused angry reactions is a good thing, too, because it means that the relevant individuals are actually reading what this man says. Every little bit helps. Or at least doesn't hurt.

Campus Alert

This is from General JC Christian, Patriot, who, by the way, scores a perfect ten on the maleness scale of heterosexuality. He is having a competition for all progressives on college campuses. As he says:

The College Republicans have had a lot of success chilling academic debate and raising big money for Republican candidates. I want to stop them. I hope this contest will help us to begin to do that by providing campus progressives with something around which they can organize.

The contest has to do with making signs and the prizes are delectable. For details, go here.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Maybe Later, Honey

The words more women should use, given that the Bush administration just went back on its word to decide on the over-the-counter availability of the so-called morning-after pill. (This is a "high dose regular birth control pill which can reduce the chances of pregnancy by up to 89% percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex") The Bush administration now needs another sixty days to ponder over possible health hazards for teenagers, even though it promised a decision by September.

This is what Representative Louise Slaughter has to say about the delay:

I am once again deeply disappointed that FDA has disregarded the recommendation of its expert Advisory Panel and instead has allowed politics to trump science," said Rep. Slaughter. "To further delay acceptance of this application that enjoys broad support in the medical and scientific communities, is completely and wholly unacceptable. The scientific facts irrefutably show that EC is a safe, effective way for women to prevent unintended pregnancies," she continued.

"This decision has seriously hindered the advancement of women's reproductive health. In a callous display of politics, the FDA has once again missed the opportunity to significantly reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions in America," Rep. Slaughter concluded.

NARAL says some similar things.

It is fascinating that the Alan Guttmacher Institute estimated that the morning-after pill accounts for up to 43% of the drop in abortion rates between 1994 and 2000. I thought that the wingnuts wanted abortions to disappear? But not enough to let women have the morning-after pill?

The traditional excuse is that the wingnuts have decided the pill equals abortion. But:

If a woman already is pregnant, the pills have no effect. They prevent ovulation or fertilization of an egg. They also may prevent the egg from implanting into the uterus, the medical definition of pregnancy, although recent research suggests that's not likely.

It is the last possibility, that of preventing implantation, that the wingnuts consider to be abortion. But it's not likely. Ahem. IT'S NOT LIKELY.

Never mind. This is all about punishing women for carefree sex by making it not-so-carefree. Also punishing rape victims who are too scared to go to a hospital or who go to a hospital that doesn't believe in the morning-after pill for rape victims. And this is all about politics, too. Grim, isn't it?

Eighty-Five Years Later...

And all I got was this crummy article about how men, once again, are smarter than women. Eighty-five years ago it was the skull size, today it is the answers to a carefully formed bunch of questions. In another eighty-five years it will be something else to make sure that women are seen as a subspecies of Homo Sapiens, at best.

Not a full human being. But at least women in the United States have been able to vote for eighty-five years! Three cheers and a hurrah. I think. Though the number of women in the U.S. House and Senate amounts to a whopping fifteen percent of the total, less than the much-praised quota for women in the planned Iraq constitution.

Many other countries have considerably more women in their parliaments than the United States manages to scrape together, and partly this is caused by the U.S. two-party system which doesn't reward risk-taking in the choice of candidates. But something else affects the outcome, too. I won't spell all the other reasons out in this celebratory piece, because then it wouldn't be celebratory.

Instead, go read the article I linked to. It's fairly optimistic.

Civil Rights Groups for Roberts!

Indeed, there are some civil rights groups which support the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Like the Center for Equal Opportunity (an organization dedicated to the rights of whites, Christians and men) and several organizations which define civil rights as religious rights.

Even a Bush-nominated member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is firmly backing Roberts! What a surprise. Jennifer Braceras used to be listed as an expert for the Independent Women's Forum, a Scaife-funded right-wing gals' club. She also wrote a fascinating piece about the civil rights of The Passion of the Christ in which she made this comment:

And, as many religious people have already come to realize, public professions of faith are often scoffed at by the liberal elite.

Note the "liberal elite" term. She is really well taught in the right language to use. Here is today's example:

Braceras and others referenced recent opposition to Roberts' nomination voiced by liberal activist organizations such as People for the American Way. Those groups' attacks on Roberts, Braceras said, "are as predictable as the sunrise and as preposterous as the man in the moon."

She dismissed PFAW President Ralph Neas' comment this week that Roberts would try to turn back the clock on civil rights as a boilerplate radical agenda attack that special interest groups would make on any Bush nominee.

"The truth is that, contrary to the cartoon-like portrayals of John Roberts by special interest groups, John Roberts is a fair-minded jurist who will judge each case on its own merits," Braceras said.

Note how everything is slogans? "Man in the moon", "boilerplate radical agenda", "special interest groups". Who is being cartoon-like here?

And how is one supposed to respond to these cartoonish statements? Zap, Pow, #$%%?

Total Disapprove - 58 %

That is the percentage of Americans who disapprove of the way the Bush administration has waged war in Iraq, according to a new AP-Ipsos poll. It is also of interest to note that 45% of those polled expressed strong disapproval. Poor Bush. The chickens are coming home to roost.

A slight majority of the respondents also thought that the U.S. made a mistake in going to Iraq in the first place, and 47% thought that the Iraq war has increased terrorism in the world. The majority (60%) still wants to keep the troops in Iraq until the situation has stabilized. Sadly, that may be when the cows come home.

I wonder if George Bush ever hears about these poll results? Probably not. They might anger him too much.
Via DailyKos

Time for A Book Review

Now that it's almost too late to take a book to the beach I have finally read one that you might want to take to beach. It's Start Making Sense. Turning the Lessons of Election 2004 Into Winning Progressive Politics, edited by Don Hazen and Lakshmi Chaudhry and published by AlterNet.

The book resembles life by starting with the past, sweeping through the present and leaving you looking into the future. In this case it means beginning with the 2004 presidential elections and the analysis of the wingnuts's success story, and then going on by looking at future progressive strategies on the Iraq war, the culture war and on economic populism. It also has a section on how to get politically active, if you already haven't figured that one out.

I liked quite a few parts of the book, even the ones where I was reading and yelling back at the author, because at least these people are talking about what the progressive movement should do. It is not what the beltway Democrats are doing, clearly, though the book doesn't agree on any one alternative, either. Still, to read what people like George Lakoff, Amy Goodman, Barbara Ehrenreich and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and many others have to say about the progressive movement is useful or at least most entertaining. So many voices! (And most of them arguing with each other, which is both our strength and our weakness.)

Consider this quote from David Morris, about understanding the right wing:

Conservatives view politics as war. In war, one tries to demoralize and destroy the enemy, seize his (sic) territory and gain unconditional surrender. Liberals engage in politics as a contact sport. Rule breakers receive penalties, including being thrown out of the game. And when the game ends, people shake hands and the differences are set aside.

I'd formulate that a little differently, as indicating the idea that liberals accept conservatives as co-citizens whereas conservatives view the liberals as illegal aliens, but the point Morris makes is a good one.

Lakshmi Chaudhry makes an equally interesting and relevant point in the section about the culture wars:

The Democratic Party's strategy of moving to the right on the economy has clearly worked against its own interests. Yet it's not surprising that many of the party leaders have responded to the latest electoral debacle with calls to do the same on social issues. Within weeks of the election, the Senate Democrats had selected pro-life Harry Reid as their leader, even as California Senator Dianne Feinstein blamed San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to legalize gay marriages for the party's defeat. No policy is indispensable in a party that substitutes strategy for vision.


The only real reservations about the book I have are tinfoil ones: it assumes that Kerry lost the election, and that has not been proved to my satisfaction. Or to that of the goddess of statistics, either. But whatever happened happened, and all we can do right now is to plan the future battles. Start Making Sense gives you some ammunition for those.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


This blog needs more posts about art. I love art! Here is one good site, for your enjoyment.
Thanks to Sarah

Some Good News

This is the first post in my new series of "good news", news that strengthen our belief in the innate sanity of Homo Sapiens. Of course, there might be no such innate sanity, but I'm going to pretend the question is settled in a positive way.

These news are heartening:

BOSTON - The American Civil Liberties Union and Jenner & Block LLP applauded the federal government's decision today to suspend the flow of taxpayer dollars funding the Silver Ring Thing, a nationwide ministry that uses abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education as a means to bring "unchurched" students to Jesus Christ.

"We are pleased that the Department of Health and Human Services today recognized that the Silver Ring Thing was blatantly misusing public dollars," said Julie Sternberg, a senior staff Attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. "As we have said all along, it is improper for the federal government to underwrite efforts to convert teenagers to a particular faith."

In a letter sent today to Denny Pattyn, founder of the Silver Ring Thing, the Department of Health and Human Services expressed concern that the program "may not have included adequate safeguards to clearly separate in time or location inherently religious activities from the federally-funded activities.... Based on the information received to date, we do not believe that actual use of federal funds for its program adequately complies with Federal grant requirements."

I'd like to add that the silver ring might work for abstinence, but only on the male half of the population, and only if it is not worn on the fingers.

The War of the Mothers

That's how low we have come, that Bush sends another mother to fight Cindy Sheehan:

Borrowing the words of a military mother whose husband and five sons have served in Iraq, President Bush told thousands of soldiers and airmen Wednesday that winning the war was worth the sacrifice of losing lives.

By invoking Tammy Pruett of Pocatello, Idaho, Bush's speech to Idaho National Guard members and Air Force personnel marked the latest effort by the White House to respond to growing antiwar protests being led largely by relatives of fallen troops.

"There are few things in life more difficult than seeing a loved one go off to war," Bush told an audience of more than 9,000 crammed into the Idaho Center in Nampa, a Boise suburb.

"Tammy says this — and I want you to hear this: 'I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country. And I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in.'

"America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts," Bush said.

Well, the wingnuts have always talked in emotions, not with logic, and so this step is fairly natural for Bush. I'm tired of the microwars that are being waged, like this one, because they give us no new information about the fundamental question: Why did Bush invade Iraq in the first place and how is he going to get us out?

His idea is to imply that getting killed in Iraq serves some high and worthy goal, but the problem is that he can't mention a single one that evidence would support is actually being served. He didn't find weapons of mass destruction, he didn't find any terrorists until he lured them in himself, and he isn't bringing a secular democracy into Iraq or freedom for the sixty percent of the citizens who happen to be women.

He says something on this last question:

Bush, who in recent days praised Iraqi government officials for their work on the constitution, seemed to acknowledge Wednesday that the process was not all positive.

Still, he expressed confidence that the Iraqi talks, like the United States' constitutional struggles two centuries ago, would have a happy ending.

Like the U.S. Founding Fathers, Bush said, "they will come up with a system that respects the traditions of their country and guarantees the rights of all their citizens."

The U.S. Founding Fathers gave no votes to blacks or women, of course. But at least they left a constitution that allowed amending. A theocratic constitution (such as the one in Afghanistan) doesn't allow amending, ever. And really, if Bush had asked before the war how many would volunteer to die for the right of creating another Islamic theocracy, do you think that he would have had many takers?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Robertson Misinterpreted!

The radical cleric Pat Robertson was recently accused of advocating the assassination of Hugo Chavez. Now Robertson says that his comments were misinterpreted, taken out of context:

"I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' And 'take him out' can be a number of things, including kidnapping; there are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP [Associated Press], but that happens all the time," Robertson said on "The 700 Club" program.

He must speak a very different English from everybody else. This is exactly what he said:

"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it," said Robertson on Monday's program. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."

Taken out of what context??? The man is a flaming liar. He is also a compulsive flaming liar. This is not the first outrageous thing that has crawled out of his mouth:

He has suggested in the past that a meteor could strike Florida because of unofficial "Gay Days" at Disney World and that feminism caused women to kill their children, practice witchcraft and become lesbians.

Indeed. Those are the very reasons I became a feminist. And the very reasons why Pat Robertson will not lose his television show for advocating the killing of foreign presidents (which appears to me to a terrorist act, by the way) have a lot to do with his outrageousness and money.

So the politically successful response to Robertson's oral offerings would be a gentle shaking of the head, a quiet aside about "inappropriateness" and a return to politics as usual. Except that the rest of the word is learning all about Robertson, too, and about the fact that he will receive at most a gentle chiding from our powers-that-be. This will hurt the country. Isn't that what anti-American treasonous people do? The ones that Robertson is always attacking?

Weeding Thoughts

I was weeding the front brick path today. It has grasses growing from the interstices between the bricks, and weeding it takes a long time which gives rise to Thoughts.

For example, tiny ants live under the bricks, and when I pull out the weeds that control their entryways they all rush out agitated and run hither and thither and try to bite the humongous sandal-clad foot that stands there. I tried not to step on any of them, and while doing that a Thought came to me like a lightning: this is what a God might be like. Like me trying not to kill the ants that live under my brick path.

Because on other days I have tried to kill them. I was once path-proud and wanted not to have ants running all over it. I considered pouring boiling water over the whole path but stopped because of laziness. Also the cruelty, of course.

A God could feel the same about us. We might have been created, like the tiny ants, for some specific job, but now we have gone wild and have decided to take over the whole path. The God is too busy with other stuff and so we are allowed to be, for the most part, except for the occasional natural catastrophy caused by the God weeding. Then we get all upset and run around in circles and make sacrifices to the God who never notices the sacrifices because they are too tiny and in any case Gods and ants eat different types of foods.

This is not a new thought, but mostly people write about either the loving God that watches us like a hawk or the semi-sadistic God that also watches us like a hawk but for different reasons or the kind of God who is absent-minded and has left us all alone. But perhaps the God is just busy and doing other stuff while half-aware of us under the path.

I don't believe any of this, naturally, and if I did I'd believe in a Goddess. But still. It's interesting in a weird sort of way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Goddess of Doom and Gloom

That's me, mostly, and this is not good. I will try to mend my ways in the future by finding and posting more good news. They do happen, but given my morose temperament I just accept them as what's due. They must be celebrated, or at least written down in some detail. My promise and divine vow is to pay more attention to the sunny side of life from now on. Starting with the next post, assuming that nothing truly horrible happens in the meantime.

See the difficulty? I truly was born gloomy, during a winter thunder storm which turned off all the lights in the hospital, and I have been that way ever since. But I will try to be more smiley. Even if it hurts my teeth.

Partly this is because I have added a donate-button to the blog. It doesn't work yet, or at least I think that it doesn't work, so any billionaire readers should wait a few days before sending me diamond-crusted keyboards and stuff. But it's there, staring back at me like some horrible finger with capitalistic boils. As you see I feel very ambivalent about it, but I really want to have broadband for my blog. I'm on dial-up right now.

The other reason for adding the donate-button is that my brother doesn't think my blogging is worth anything because it doesn't make any money, and I want to prove him wrong. What is it about brothers and sisters, anyway?

So that's the news right now.


It's the new black, the new fashion choice for politicians everywhere. Never mind that we got rid of the Taliban in Afghanistan, they are growing back there, too. And something rather similar is planned for Iraq. Even for the United States, at least by some of our future politicians.

The Los Angeles Times has the story, via Kos, and it is a frightening one for all us pagan liberals:

Nearly every Monday for six months, as many as a dozen congressional aides — many of them aspiring politicians — have gathered over takeout dinners to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy debates about tax rates, foreign aid, education, cloning and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Through seminars taught by conservative college professors and devout members of Congress, the students learn that serving country means first and always serving Christ.

They learn to view every vote as a religious duty, and to consider compromise a sin.

That puts them at the vanguard of a bold effort by evangelical conservatives to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God.

"We help them understand God's purpose for society," said Bouma, who coordinates the program, known as the Statesmanship Institute, for the Rev. D. James Kennedy.

Neat. And very much like the urgings in Iraq to base the constitution there on the Islamic Sharia law. But somehow we give the American Talibanites a free pass, somehow we judge their religiousness as harmless, whereas the religiousness of other fanatics is seen as potentially problematic. Yet in this very country there are young politicians like this:

Greene, the deputy press secretary for a Republican congressman from Florida, signed up for the Statesmanship Institute in part because he felt his Christian ethics were under constant assault — from lobbyists offering him free steak dinners, from friends urging him to network over beers.

The seminars proved a revelation. In one, Greene learned that ministers ran many of America's earliest schools. He hadn't thought much about education policy before that class. Now he plans to fight for history lessons on the Founding Fathers' faith, science lessons drawn from the Book of Genesis and public school prayer.
Growing up in rural West Virginia, Echard believed passionately in her church's teachings against abortion, but thought little about such issues as economic policy or foreign trade.

The institute gave her a framework for evaluating those topics.

Now the director of the Eagle Forum, a conservative lobbying group founded by Phyllis Schlafly, Echard says Jesus would approve of a call for lower taxes: "God calls on us to be stewards of our [own] money."

She dips into the Bible to explain her opposition to most global treaties, reasoning that Americans have a holy obligation to protect their God-given freedom by avoiding foreign entanglements.

"The Scripture talks of taking every thought and making it captive to Christ, and that's what the Statesmanship Institute helps us do," Echard said.

Echard's beliefs about what the Bible says about taxes are interesting, as there is much in the Bible that could be interpreted as meaning the exact opposite of what she has come up with. Yet only one type of biblical writings gets credit here, and this is the type that supports the Republican agenda.

Fundamentalism is a difficult approach to follow, especially as all the holy books are full of contradictory messages. It wraps a person into a pretzel to try to accommodate them all simultaneously, so why bother trying? It's so much easier to pick just those bits that support one specific view, and that is exactly what all fundamentalists do. Which is insincere and dishonest and slimy, if you are to be a real fundamentalist. Real fundamentalists obey ALL the rules, not just the ones that seem nice.

It is important to reveal the shallowness of America's fundamentalists. It is also important to say aloud that they are really, truly, honestly trying to take over this country, and if we remain politely distant of their campaigns they will succeed. And I, for one, have no desire to live in Gilead.

The Fatwah of Pat Robertson

He has recently advocated assassinating Hugo Chavez:

ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

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. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Atrios points out how it is odd for a man of God to advocate assassination, not because the object of the fatwah would be guilty of torture or the violation of human rights or anything of that sort but for the simple crime of sitting on a whole lot of oil that the U.S. wants.

I'd like to point out that now Robertson is mainstream in this country. Now people who we laughed at only a decade ago hold the steering wheels in the media, and what they say is taken seriously and discussed all over the blogosphere. Gah. I'm going out to watch the guy who preaches about the end of the world at the nearby street corner. He'll be the next president of the U.S., probably, and if I can get in at this early stage my career will be made.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Some Innocent Fun?

The kind that John Roberts would find funny, given that he is an erudite guy who talks glibly in legalese. This is from Heretik:

It's not in good taste, of course, but then neither are most of the things Roberts has quipped about women's rights. This is more to the point than any of them, I believe.
Props to Jane

Women And the Iraq Constitution

A recent post by Digby on the possible consequences of theocracy in Iraq contains this:

I got an e-mail from someone I respect asking me why I made such a big deal out of women's rights being denied when there are so many other freedoms at stake. It's a legitimate question I suppose, but I think the question answers itself. The fact is that under Saddam, in their everyday lives, one half of the population had more real, tangible freedom than they have now and that they will have under some form of Shar'ia. The sheer numbers of people whose freedom are affected make it the most glaring and tragic symbol of our failed "noble cause."

Iraqi women have enjoyed secular, western-style equality for more than 40 years. Most females have no memory of living any other way. In order to meet an arbitrary deadline for domestic political reasons, we have capitulated to theocrats on the single most important constitutional issue facing the average Iraqi woman --- which means that we have now officially failed more than half of the Iraqis we supposedly came to help. We have "liberated" millions of people from rights they have had all their lives.

That Digby felt a need to justify focusing on the rights of women that would be lost if the Shariah law became constitutionally mandated in Iraq is noteworthy in a sad and murky way. Women's social rights indeed appear unnecessary for the evolution of democracy for many. Including such rights as the right to take a job without a permission from a husband or a father, the right to seek and possibly gain custody of your children in the case of a divorce, the right to seek a divorce in the first place, and the right to be an equal heir with your brothers. Including such rights as the right to travel out of the country without a father's or a husband's permission, the right to become a judge if one is otherwise qualified, the right to study anything your brother may legally study. Including such rights as the right to choose whom you marry and whether you marry at all. Including such rights as having your testimony count equally with that of your brother in a court of law rather than as being worth only one half of his testimony. And so on. Depending on the specific form of Shariah, all or some of these rights for women could be deleted in Iraq, and it is hard to see how women could see such deletions as democratic progress.

The usually unspoken argument of those who find women's social rights unimportant for democracy is that democracy in places like Iraq can take a different form: one limited to men only, because democracy elsewhere, including in the United States, once assigned equal rights to only some people, such as white men. Yet over time these rights were extended to others, including women. In other words, Iraq and other countries such as Afghanistan are viewed as outdated forms of our own country. Medieval, perhaps. But with the passage of time surely these countries will emulate what took place in the West? And if not, well, the men who are making the U.S. decisions right now are unlikely to suffer. And maybe the people "over there" are really different. Maybe they don't want democracy, after all. At least for the women. After all, we let the women vote, too, and look how they voted! Mostly they voted for their religion so they must want to be oppressed.

There it is, all neatly typed up in one paragraph, the true nasty subtext of what is going on with respect to some Americans' thinking about women and the Iraqi constitution. It's pragmatism at its most disgusting, because women and their rights were used as a smokescreen when it suited the Bushboys. But only as long as it suited them. Deep under the skin the Bush administration has a certain type of brotherhood with the Talibanites, and deep under the same skin, I strongly suspect, most of the Bushites are not too upset over the possible creation of another fundamentalist theocracy.

Though they may have some public relations problems with selling the outcome to the American public, especially given the many Americans who have died to bring this outcome about. But I am sure that some suitable scheme will be invented, probably along the lines that democracy has happened, even if it created a nondemocratic state. You know, the majority has spoken in Iraq. Never mind that democracy is a little bit more complicated than unbridled majority rule without any constitutional protection of the weak or without a good judicial system or any of the institutions that democracies rely on.

The second possible story line, that of a gradual progress towards a more equal society, doesn't play terribly well, either. For one thing, why invade a country and kill so many of its inhabitants if we are now willing to wait for a gradual process to take place? We could have left Saddam in power and waited for his death instead. For another thing, how is gradual progress going to change a constitution which denies women equal rights if the constitution will be declared as unmendable? This is what is included in the much lauded Afghanistan constitution. More generally, how can a theocracy ever change any of its basic principles?

It is indeed true that the Iraqis are not, on average, eager feminists. But surely the Bush administration was aware of this and of the dangers of unleashing a fundamentalist government on the women of Iraq before the invasion? Surely someone, somewhere in the administration knew that invading Iraq wouldn't exactly warm the Iraqis towards the values of equality and modernity; values associated with the corrupt West? And didn't this someone, somewhere in the administration also mention, perhaps even aloud, that democracy cannot be forced upon a country from the outside?

What the United States has created in Iraq is a mess of historical proportions. It is also a mess that could easily have been predicted by anyone even superficially informed about the area and its history. That this mess was not prevented tells us more than I really want to learn.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

What the Europeans Don't Have

1. The guy who made the quote in the next post below,
2. Wonderbread.

I truly missed Wonderbread. I use it to clean lampshades and to make interesting buttons for my coats. I didn't miss the guy in the next post as I didn't know he existed. Too bad, as I could have done with a three-week break from him.

This post is instead of the long and learned one I wrote about why the guy in the next post is truly out of his little mind and probably eats Wonderbread. I figured out that my smart readers already know all the reasons, but that they might not know about the many uses of Wonderbread, other than eating it. But if I was mistaken and you really want a long and learned treatise on women and the Iraq constitution, let me know and I shall oblige.

Now You Know

On Meet the Press, August 21, Reuel Marc Gehrect of the Weekly Standard said this:

In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we'd all be thrilled. I mean, women's social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy.


A British term for being so tired that ones eyes hang off the end of long ropes. That's how many progressives and liberals feel these days, I bet. I do, anyway, because so much of my time goes into refuting inane claims that have been refuted many times in the previous decades and centuries. In other words, ladies and gentlemen, we are pedalling backwards, furiously.

Just think of the fact that we are arguing evolution again, that we are seriously demolishing all social welfare nets and that we are slipping and sliding back into a time before the Enlightenment. Now, the Enlightenment wasn't quite as wonderful as it may have been written up as but it sure was an improvement over the Dark Ages. Yet it seems that the wingnuts pine for the darkness of those ages. Not only that, but they wish all of us back there with them. In a Santorum-land, most likely.

What makes me say all this doomsday stuff? Mostly what I read on the net. For example, David Ignatius tells us that the Democrats don't have any consistent alternative to the Republicans' plan of apocalypse now rather than later, and that it is the Democrats who have the problem. Then the New York Times gives us a long article about Intelligent Design and how its proponents are a politically active group of scientists. Rather than scientifically active group of politicians, which would be closer to the truth. You see what I mean? It is us, the sane and the rational, who must defend our positions by digging up all those defenses that have been used successfully in the past. Somehow the fact that we won on the issues has been forgotten. Now all must be fought again, and this makes a goddess tired. Also the jet lag, of course, but that ruins my rant.

The terms, "reality-based", and its opposite, "Wingnuttia", are relevant here. In a reality-based world one tests theories against evidence, and one keeps science separate from religion, because religious concepts can't be tested using the scientific method. In a reality-based world one studies history to learn from it, and one tries not to make the same mistakes over and over again. In Wingnuttia the rules are different, it seems. And now we all live by the Wingnuttia rules, which means eternal vigilance in a more concrete sense than ever before. For example, any minute now gravity will be declared as heresy. And then chocolate will be declared an illegal drug. NO!

Only the Kurds Stand for Secular Democracy Now

Read this lovely quote on what Bush and his boots of freedom marching in Iraq think:

U.S. concessions to Islamists on the role of religion in Iraqi law marked a turn in talks on a constitution, negotiators said on Saturday as they raced to meet a 48-hour deadline under intense U.S. pressure to clinch a deal.

U.S. diplomats, who have insisted the constitution must enshrine ideals of equal rights and democracy, declined comment.

Well, that's the whitewashing done, then. We are going to build another theocracy, to grow more little terrorists with, and it has been worth all the human sacrifices. Don't you agree? If you don't, you are a treasonous anti-American terrorist.

The Kurds are still fighting back on the issue of Islam becoming the main source of legislation in the country. But they are unlikely to win.

Too sad for the women of Iraq who used to have very good legal protections before the invasion. I guess that's why we liberated them and all that.