Saturday, December 01, 2007

Does The Cooper-Hewitt Citation Make The Mad Housers Respectable? Posted by olvlzl.

When they retired from the farm, my grandparents lived in “the little house”, about 16 feet square, four rooms and a water closet. There was also an outhouse in a tiny, unattached shed. Though it was a perfectly good place for two people to live and they had lived there with two of their children early in their marriage, it would probably never be allowed today. At least not unless it was on wheels.

The tiny house movement is a good thing, a rational reaction to the absurd mega-mansions that people have been gulled into wanting. Seems that a lot of people are rethinking letting a large house and mortgage eat up their lives. While some of the tiny houses are jewels of traditional and modern architecture, those are out of the income range of many who you really need a tiny house. As the Cooper Hewitt exhibit which featured the Mad Housers pointed out, there are 90% of the world who need to get through a life as well.

The Mad Housers began in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s a group which builds tiny shacks for homeless people where they can sleep and get out of the elements. The houses are built by volunteers of donated materials and then turned over to the people they are built for. Their website shows two basic models, with plans. There is the 6x8' house with a sleeping loft and the 4x8' “low rider” for situations in which the housing has to be really inconspicuous. In northern climates they would have to include insulation, even with the tiny, funky home-made wood stoves they provide. While I’m not sure about the stoves, they say they’ve got a good record of safety. Still, I’d like to see one before I decide on it.

The Housers, like any well thought out shoestring group, has to be very careful about where they expend their limited resources and volunteer time. While the placement of the huts is often of marginal legality, there are some situations more marginal than others. I’m impressed at their practicality and realism. Some of their clients use the huts as a way to get out of destitution some of their clients are so down and out that they will probably never climb out.

Lending people money at a ruinous rate of interest, risking their falling into destitution is not only legal, it’s encouraged by banking and lending laws. Providing housing for people living in the rough makes you an outlaw. Sometimes, at least. In their FAQ there is one dealing with the advisability of providing housing for people without houses as if being disparately poor without a place to sleep wasn’t bad enough. Somewhere in the things I read for this post someone asks if people would rather have someone sleeping in their doorway or in one of these huts. Maybe that question is the best answer.

About Hapenings in Rochester, NH. Posted by olvlzl.

I live close enough to Rochester, New Hampshire so that two members of my immediate family were locked down in the schools and a number of friends were directly effected by the hostage crisis at Hillary Clinton’s headquarters. From what is known now, the local and State Police handled the crisis very professionally and I thank them for that. Even if it had happened thousands of miles away, their not attempting to become media personalities during the standoff is very much appreciated. The hyper-hype that the cabloids and broadcast impose on situations like this is more of an incentive to crack-pots and marginal personalities in search of attention than it is useful to the People. As if the media are in the business of providing people with useful information instead of sensational ratings fodder. While nothing can be done about the shameless and irresponsible media spreading every last rumor and air-filling lie, it’s not something that the police and others are required to participate in. The time to give the public the facts is when those are known. Until the crisis is over, the police have work other than to provide CNN with something to fill in between commercials.

Someone I talked to this morning wondered where Anderson Cooper and the other media people were going to spend the night. As luck would have it, I intended to write about Rochester today anyway. This article by Conor Makem from the Rochester Times earlier last month is about the mostly unremarked crisis in homelessness and hunger in one of the more well-off areas of the country.

ROCHESTER It's 3 p.m. and Nancy Lawrence is calming down one of her volunteers over the phone. The residents of the Homeless Center for Strafford County are beginning to show up for the evening. The parking lot is full.

Lawrence, the executive director, is frazzled. The center has never been this full so early in the season. They opened Oct. 1 and were full three days later. Normally they don't have this many residents until after Thanksgiving. There are 10 adults and 10 children, aged 1 to 11 years.

"I turn away two to five families a day," she said. "I've turned away a few people before, but never like this."

She notes that every homeless shelter in the area is full. Lawrence is housing a pregnant woman due within days, she has fewer volunteers than in recent years and she has taken to loaning money out of her pocket to residents. She expects it to get worse.

"Our food pantry is wicked low," she said.

No one really expected the national media that descends on New Hampshire every Presidential election, to cover every hot dog eaten by the candidates to find this story, now, did we. How often do they report on destitution in their own towns?

Rochester and the surrounding towns aren’t in particularly bad economic condition. Since homelessness and hunger are that bad in Rochester and the surrounding towns it’s certainly a lot worse in most places. I don’t know if there is a tie in with the hostage-taking and bomb threat to be made but there could be. The suspect is known in the area, there was at least one rather marginally rational letter printed in a local paper and there have been enough domestic and other incidents with police to have gotten his name in the news. I think he’s probably been in rather disparate need of some kind of psychiatric help for a while now, his neighbors say he’s been unemployed for months. His wife had just filed for divorce last week so it’s quite possible that he or she would soon have ended up homeless. A lot of people have fallen from father up the economic scale than they were. There are a lot of people just barely holding on by their fingernails even in relatively well off places.

The backlash against people who were living on the street and very conspicuously not those in a position to house them was some of the foul gas that fueled the rise of Rudolph Giuliani, objectively the seamiest and most compromised major candidate in the race. Not that the delicate noses of the DC based press can smell the taint. How much do you want to bet that somehow, Hillary Clinton will be made to pay more of a price for the incident in Rochester than Giuliani will have to for his associations with criminals and sleaze. Not that anyone here would take that bet. None of us is going to be surprised when it turns out to be her fault, I’m sure that some hate-talk personality has already floated the soon-to-be reported as having-been-said lie that she planned it as a campaign stunt. Some things are a sure bet.

More about this later.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Some Friday Kitty-Game Fun

Courtesy of Kenosha Kid, you can get addicted to a new game, this one. The idea, as far as I can figure it out, is to stop the cat from leaving the field, and the way to do that is to click on the light green dots to make them into dark green ones. The dark green ones work like a fence, or at least the kitty can't leap onto those.

Have fun, and a good weekend, too.

The Dangers of Asbestos

You may have observed the removal of old asbestos from buildings, presumably from far away, unless you were one of the removers clad in those space suits the workers wear for protection because asbestos is a known health hazard. But you may be unaware that asbestos may exist in new products, too, even in some toys meant for children:

The CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit, two brands of children's play clay, powdered cleanser, roof sealers, duct tapes, window glazing, spackling paste and small appliances were among the products in which asbestos was found by at least two of three labs hired by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

The group, which was created in 2004 by asbestos victims and their families, spent more than $165,000 to have government-certified laboratories examine hundreds of consumer products over 18 months to determine whether asbestos was present.

It is unusual for a group of volunteers, many of whom have asbestos-caused diseases, to fund research that impacts public health.

"We had to. No one else was doing it," said Linda Reinstein, the group's co-founder and executive director. "This is information that consumers and Congress must have because asbestos is lethal and we naively believe that the government is protecting us, when it's not."

The product that is of greatest concerns to some public health experts is the fingerprint kit, which is a huge seller, according to sales personnel interviewed by the Seattle P-I.

The asbestos in the fingerprint kit was found in the powders the kit contains. These are very likely to be inhaled while playing with the kit.

I'm not sure how reliable private laboratory tests are, but it's of clear concern to find that the government is not testing for asbestos.
Via Rants from the Rookery.

Bias in Texas

This story is odd:

The state's director of science curriculum has resigned after being accused of creating the appearance of bias against teaching intelligent design.

Chris Comer, who has been the Texas Education Agency's director of science curriculum for more than nine years, offered her resignation this month.

In documents obtained Wednesday through the Texas Public Information Act, agency officials said they recommended firing Comer for repeated acts of misconduct and insubordination. But Comer said she thinks political concerns about the teaching of creationism in schools were behind what she describes as a forced resignation.

Agency officials declined to comment, saying it was a personnel issue.

Comer was put on 30 days paid administrative leave shortly after she forwarded an e-mail in late October announcing a presentation being given by Barbara Forrest, author of "Inside Creationism's Trojan Horse," a book that says creationist politics are behind the movement to get intelligent design theory taught in public schools. Forrest was also a key witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case concerning the introduction of intelligent design in a Pennsylvania school district. Comer sent the e-mail to several individuals and a few online communities, saying, "FYI."

Agency officials cited the e-mail in a memo recommending her termination. They said forwarding the e-mail not only violated a directive for her not to communicate in writing or otherwise with anyone outside the agency regarding an upcoming science curriculum review, "it directly conflicts with her responsibilities as the Director of Science."

The memo adds, "Ms. Comer's e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker's position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral."

Why should the TEA remain neutral in this matter? I guess it should also be neutral about whether the earth is flat or not?

Very Bad

Added even later: The situation appears to have been solved without anyone getting hurt.

ThinkProgress reports that a man who appears to have a bomb strapped to his body is holding Clinton Campaign volunteers as hostage in New Hampshire.

Added later: The news now report that at least two hostages have been released. It is not clear whether any are still being held.

Friday Nature and Critter Blogging

First, some lovely snakes, courtesy of swampcracker. Notice the curiosity of the orange snake. It's thinking of making tools.

The racer snake can see far:

Then a glimpse at life under the surface, by Darryl Pearce. Very mystical and fascinating.

Finally, and naturally, some Pippin-cat by FeraLiberal. NOBODY sees as far as Pippin:

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What Annoys Me Today

Mostly because nothing seems to light my writing fire today, I have dawdled over various parts of my daily chores, such as checking my e-mail. The ads I have to go through first tell me what is going on in "Entertainment" and "News of the Day" and I decided to look at what it is that should entertain me.

It's news about the private lives of celebrities. Many of these are about babies being born to some celebrity or another, and all the headlines are of the form where "x" welcomes "baby girl/boy/multiples". Wouldn't it be more entertaining to read that "x" was furious and wanted to cancel the baby order? Or is there a special welcome ritual that I've missed about the arrival of babies?

Yes, I know that what I wrote above is curmudgeonly, and that it's difficult to think of an interesting way to say that the new parents are delighted to finally hold the baby. The annoyance I feel is much more severe when the news are about how someone reacts to horrible events. You know, the kind of thing where someone is asked how they feel about having their whole family killed in a fire or lost in an earthquake. It seems wrong to even ask such question, and the answers have very little news value. Of course the survivor is devastated. To ask her or him to expand on that feeling is voyeurism of the nastiest kind.

Then there is this story about a man who killed his ex-wife and his children. The story is written in an odd way, almost as if family violence is some sort of a virus that just happens:

The couple, who divorced in 2005, had a history of domestic violence, police said.

The family lived in Frederick County for about five years, with Brockdorff moving out in 2005 and Pumphrey leaving this year, neighbors said.

Brockdorff was a self-employed electrician who had coached T-ball, and Pumphrey was a flight attendant, said Mullen, who lives two houses away. The three Brockdorff children were close friends with Mullen's.

The couple's relationship was stormy, and police were often called to their large home to help settle their disputes, Mullen said.

In fall 2005, Pumphrey asked Brockdorff to move out, and he moved to nearby Urbana. But he continued to visit Pumphrey and harass her, Mullen said. Pumphrey got a restraining order and even suspected that her phone had been tapped.

"She was very scared," Mullen said. "She wanted to protect her kids and herself."

Perhaps the ex-wife was also violent, but the story gives no evidence of that. Instead, it is the "couple" who somehow "has a history" of domestic violence. And all this in a story which begins by telling how the ex-husband killed the rest of the family. I can't imagine similar writing applied to other kinds of murders.

Holiday Gift Ideas

These are some ideas which arrived in my mail box. First, you can help to fund Equal Access Fund, which provides funds for women who can't afford an abortion. Second, you can help to fund Women's eNews, a worthy website reporting on news of interest to women around the world and one of the first Internet sites dedicating on them. If you want to send them a check, make it out to The Fund for the City of New York/Women's eNews, and mail it to:

Women's eNews
135 West 29th Street, Suite 1005
New York, NY 10001

I will add more suggestions as I receive them. Happy holidays! (The beginning trumpet call in the war against Christmas, naturally.)
And more ideas from Viva La Feminista.

On The Republican Debate

I watched some parts of it but was unable to watch it all. Let's just put it this way: It was a bit of a spectacle, and I'm not at all sure what scope there might be for bipartisanship under the current circumstances.

The interesting question for me is to figure out whom the money boys want as the candidate. It looks like it might not be Rudy, given the timing of this story, but Romney has that Mormon thing working against him. Huckabee is the new darling of the media. They always like a smiling, godly guy who hates women, I guess. - Of course, all this is speculation based on nothing but my own sarcastic self.

What did you think of the debate? And of the wonderful questions posed in it?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sex Tourism Reversal

Reuters reports about older white women joining Kenya's sex tourism. It's always useful to remember to take stories like that with a grain of salt, because they might be part of the business which makes up faux trends with no real statistical evidence to back them up. But supposing that it indeed is true that older white women travel to Kenya in order to have paid sex with young Kenyan men, what should a feminist say about it?

That would probably depend on the feminist. My first step in analyzing stories like this is to do a gender-reversal. If you do that all the article tells us is the old and nasty story about colonial oppression and prostitution or about the power of wealthier individuals to buy sex from poorer individuals who have few other alternatives. Perhaps the advantage of the actual story is that these other aspects become much clearer when the entitlement aspect of being an older white man has been removed. Older white women are usually not regarded as entitled to sex, after all.

My second step was to think how I would feel about the article if the older women went to, say, Florida, for their sex tourism and if the younger men working in the industry were of the same race and with other alternatives to escorting as a way of making a living. Would the arrangement then be just fine? After all, it is mostly viewed as just fine when it is older white men who do this by paying for mistresses or casual sex. I'm not sure.

My final thoughts had to do with wondering about how all this would be explained by the misogynistic section of evolutionary psychologists. Women aren't supposed to do this kind of stuff, and certainly not older women.

Pat Buchanan's Nightmares

Unlike the rest of us, Buchanan tends to write books about his own private nightmares. They always have the same monsters: white women who don't breed enough and brown people who will come and take over the Murka Pat is so proud of. His newest book is all about the same old racism and sexism:

MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan appeared on the November 26 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes to discuss his new book, Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, And Greed Are Tearing America Apart (Thomas Dunne Books, November 2007), in which he writes that America is "on a path to national suicide" and later asks: "How is America committing suicide?" answering: "Every way a nation can." He proceeds to claim that "[t]he American majority is not reproducing itself. ... Forty-five million of its young have been destroyed in the womb since Roe v. Wade, as Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate the lost generation of American children never got to see."

What Buchanan is saying that white, non-Hispanic Americans are not breeding enough and that this is the reason why Mexicans will take over the country. If all those abortions had not happened we could have solved the need for cheap labor in agriculture and the hospitality industry by using our own people!

Buchanan's arguments really do seem to come from his private nightmares, except for his assumption that the United States of the past was a happy mixing pot where everybody was boiled until they looked quite nicely European. He fails to apply social science to his fears, too. For instance, more educated people always have fewer children and the average children per family drop pretty fast once an immigrant population becomes mainstreamed in the United States.

But what he never fails to do is to blame white women for not having more children to keep Pat's nightmares at bay. This is especially weird considering the fact that Pat personally has done nothing to help those birth rate numbers he so deplores.

Scientists Talk Back on Abstinence Education

It does not work, by the way, and throwing money at it is just a way of giving pork to some religious groups. A group of scientists has written a letter about the uselessness of abstinence education to Nancy Pelosi, and you can read it here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Golden Compass: Anti-Religious Propaganda!

*Warning: The link contains spoilers.*

I was waiting for the Catholic League President Bill Donohue to comment on the movie, based on the first book in Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, and Donohue didn't disappoint.

He took the anti-religion bait and swam with it, all the way to the end of the reel:

The author of the book on which the new film The Golden Compass is based has hit back at critics who accuse him of peddling "candy-coated atheism".

Philip Pullman dismissed as "absolute rubbish" accusations by the US-based Catholic League that the film promotes atheism and denigrates Christianity.

"I am a story teller," he said. " If I wanted to send a message I would have written a sermon."

The Golden Compass - which stars Nicole Kidman - premiers in London on Tuesday.

In Donohue's world anyone who depicts anything negative about religion is peddling atheism. Only perfectly candy-coated descriptions of Christianity are allowed.

The whole thing is really silly, because Pullman's trilogy can also be read as a retelling of the creation tale from the Bible and in that sense it is very religious indeed.

Go and see the movie, just to annoy our Bill.

A Silly Game For You

To balance the sad post below. You can go to this site and find out which presidential candidate is closest to your values. Not sure that any such short list of questions really works, but who knows, you might find something new about yourself.

Bad News From Iraq

The women are not faring well in all the upheaval. I was opposed to the Iraq invasion for many reasons, and especially for the reasons of avoiding unnecessary blood-letting, but the fate of the Iraqi women always weighed heavily on my mind. I believed that the most organized part of the society, that of religious fundamentalists, would take over, and I feared what would happen to the women who are not content with the rules of that type of religion.

The situation does not look good. In the south of Iraq:

In Basra, Iraq, religious extremists are waging a violent campaign against women who do not dress or behave according to their interpretation of Islam and doctors who provide medical services to women.

"They kill women, leave a piece of paper on her or dress her in indecent clothes so as to justify their horrible crimes," said Basra police chief Maj. Gen. Abdul Jalil Khalaf. Militants murdered 42 women between July and September, the BBC reported Nov. 15.

The same piece mentions violence against male gynecologists, in an attempt to make them stop practicing. The snag in that is that there are not enough women gynecologists. Thus, if the militants have their way, most women in Iraq will get no gynecological care. Sound familiar? This is the sort of thing the Taliban did in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, in the north of Iraq the Kurdish women aren't doing that well, either:

Ninety-seven women were burnt to death and 27 others killed in the three Kurdish provinces during the past four months, the human rights minister in the Iraqi Kurdistan region revealed.

"I cannot say that violence against women has lowered," Yusuf Aziz Muhammad told reporters after taking part in a conference held in Arbil on Sunday to discuss means to stop violence against women.
The statements coincide with the international day to eliminate violence against women, November 25.
"Surveys conducted in Arbil (the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region) showed that there were 60 cases of women burning in Arbil, 21 in Duhuk and 16 in Sulaimaniya. There were also 10 cases of women killing in Arbil, 11 in Duhuk and six in Sulaimaniya," Muhammad said.
The Kurdish official, citing the figures of 2005, noted that there were 59 cases of women killing in the region, which rose to 118 in 2006.
"Cases of women burning themselves in Sulaimaniya during 2006 were 64 and in Duhuk 185," said the minister.
Women proved involved in honor-related crimes are forced to burn themselves and sometimes they are set ablaze by their male relatives.

That article notes one of the reasons for all this violence: contempt towards women and their role in the family and society. You can twist yourself into a pretzel trying to reconcile that contempt with the simultaneous push in Basra to make women act according to the most limited roles possible. But misogyny has never been bothered by its own illogicality.

And what of the response from the West to news like these? Some fear that even talking about them foments war against Iran or some other suitable country, despite the obvious futility of war as a weapon for democratizing a country. If anything, things have gotten worse for Iraqi women since the U.S. invasion, and I don't quite see how it would help women in any of the countries where women are not much valued if they or their family members were first killed by U.S. bombs.

Others turn suddenly all relative in their ethical judgments when otherwise they would not do so, and point out that we shouldn't judge what other cultures do. I wonder if they would have the same reaction should we be reading about the burning of children or if the corpses in Basra all belonged to members of a religious minority.

No, it is something about the victims being women that causes the "look elsewhere" syndrome. Because deep down, somewhere, many of us still believe that the women belong to their husbands, fathers, families and their societies, to treat as those parties see fit.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Is This Funny?

Shakes points out that rape is now a laughing matter, and presents this example of the genre of humor where violence is funny (she also provides a transcript of it):

Did you find yourself laughing when the three defenders of the environment killed a man and gang-raped a woman? I'd guess that you did not if either murder or rape has ever touched upon your own life. But what about those who are lucky enough not to have the memory of that pain?

I didn't find the skits funny, but then I'm a prude as you all know. Instead, the choices made me try to figure out what it is exactly that the creators of these jokes wanted to accomplish. Is the idea to make environmental protection look like a manly thing to do? Something tough guys might consider, inbetween rape and pillage? Or are they arguing that spoiling the environment is worse than gang-rape or murder?

Deep Thought For The Day

The reason all those corporate answering services are automated is to make sure that any complaint you have never reaches an actual living ear. That way the firm doesn't have to fix anything.

On The Housing Bubble

Last night the top Google advertisement on one blog was this:

No Money Down Home Loans
$300,000 Loan Amount Minimum Instant Approval - No Credit Check

Interesting that these kinds of ads are still being used, given the state of the housing market. Note also that any ad specifically pointing out that there will be no credit check would get a much larger than average number of responses from those who have bad credit, and people who have bad credit are often going to continue having bad credit. That "no money down" part is also very suspicious. Taken together, the ad promises mortgages for people who really cannot afford mortgages.

There is a sense in which the housing markets in the last few years (pretty much the Bush reign) have acted as if the equivalent of gravity in the physical world no longer works: No, you don't have to save money for a fancy house. No, we will not look into your past credit history. Yes, indeed, you can get something for nothing.

But of course you can't get something for nothing, or certainly not on the scale that the housing bubble suggests. What is it that they used in the place of all those old rules about mortgages? The one new theory or myth seems to have been the idea that the prices of housing will keep on rising and rising and rising.

If that myth is true it makes sense to take a loan which is front-loaded with nothing but interest. You get to deduct the interest against your taxes, you get to live in the house, and if the value of houses rises you gather equity from just that. When finally the day arrives with monthly payments for not just the interest, that day when your monthly payments will double, say, well, your house has appreciated in value and you can either sell it and make some money or you can refinance it based on its new and better value. Neat, is it not?

Except of course in the case when housing prices are falling. In that case you are in deep trouble. And that is the scenario that is now unfolding. What is especially bitter about that scenario is that the very reason WHY the prices of houses have stopped rising is the vast number of bad mortgages, taken by people on the hope that prices would keep on rising. A sort of a suicide, if you like.

So, yes, the outlook is not rosy in the housing markets. But the meaning of all this is even more grave and the debacle might hit all of us, whether we ever gambled with houses or not. The reason has to do with the role the wealth in the form of houses has taken in the United States. One article quoted an expert who stated that Americans have used their houses as ATM machines, as sources of money for things quite unrelated to housing. That may be a little too rude, but it is indeed true that the wealth in the form of housing has been fueling the U.S. economy for the last eight years.

People spend more when they have more wealth, and when the value of their houses increased they felt that they had more wealth to spend. Now that the value of their houses is not increasing and may well be decreasing, they will spend less. Less spending by consumers means fewer orders for firms. That means more unemployment, and the vicious cycle starts turning: Unemployed people will not consume that much, unemployed people will lose their houses....

So what happened to allow this all? The government didn't disallow it, for one thing. Then the financial markets invented a new tool: that of mincing up all the poor mortgages and then tossing them into the general mortgage salad for the purposes of reselling. That way nobody could tell exactly how many bad mortgages they had just acquired! In short, the general investments in the housing markets were not protected from the bad investments. And, as I mentioned, the government didn't declare this new tool illegal.

The latter reminds me a lot of the 1929 stock market crash. The new tool then in play was leveraging. It worked beautifully when the market was going up and it crashed every bit as spectacularly when the market was going down.

I hope that we have all learned enough since 1929 to contain the current housing market crisis before it gets worse.

Trent Lott Leaves Abruptly

The Republican Senator from Mississippi and the Senate's Number 2 Republican, has just announced his resignation from the Senate, effective before the end of the year. He has given the reason as "other opportunities."

Very odd...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What The Fashionable Klansman Will Be Wearing Next Spring Posted by olvlzl

If you missed the go-round between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee on illegal immigrants earlier this month, you missed some fun. Huckabee, while the governor of Arkansas floated a proposal to give some kind of tuition break to the children of illegal immigrants in his state. Panicking that he might have spent mightily and lose to Huck Thin in Iowa Romney attacked him on this issue only to have Huckabee say, "I guess Mitt Romney would rather keep people out of college so they can keep working on his lawn," . Seems Mitt had hired a lawn care company that depended on cheap, illegal immigrant laborers for twelve years. Fred Thompson got in a few kicks in on Huckabee too. You’d imagine that the effort must have winded the laziest candidate in the race. There is also talk about Huckabee turning over state owned space in Little Rock for use by the Mexican consulate.

Illegal immigration is the code phrase for a well prepared strategy the Republicans are relying on in next year’s election, anti-Latino bigotry. Conservatives, unable to run on their actual platform, which would disadvantage the large majority of middle-class and working class people for the advantage of the oligarches, have always reverted to bigotry, their most trusted tool. Bigotry has won them election after election. CNN’s Lou Dobbs and others, well, really the entire cabloid-hate talk media, have been laying the ground, whipping up anti-Latino mania to the point where it is actually going to have a real impact on the election. Republicans are practicing with it against each other before using it against Democrats in the general election. On Russert’s program this morning Mary Matalin was fantasizing that anti-Latino bigotry would drive black voters into the arms of the Republicans, a fantasy so wacky that has the smell of being Oked by some consultant or other before that hack mouthed it.

The other reliable tool of Republicans, Biblical fundamentalism, is also being kept handy. Huckabee’s success in the Iowa polls is primary based on the pseudo-christian vote. The “Values Voters” and other pseudo-religious Republican fronts SHOULD have a problem with the anti-alien plank which is certain to be a part of the Republican platform. That is they would if liberals had the wit to have read the Bible. For example, in her brilliant review of The God Delusion, Marilynne Robinson made this potentially useful point in response to the false assertion that The Law as laid down in Leviticus - one of the favorite books with cherry pickers on both sides of the God Wars - was meant to only apply to Jews.

... the verse quoted here, Leviticus 19:18, does indeed begin, "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people," language that allows a narrow interpretation of the commandment. But Leviticus 19:33—34 says "When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. . . . You shall love the alien as yourself." In light of these verses, it is wrong by Dawkins's own standards to argue that the ethos of the law does not imply moral consideration for others. (It would be interesting to see the response to a proposal to display this Mosaic law in our courthouses.)

My bold

What would the “Values Voters” answer be if it was repeatedly and relentlessly pointed out that this “law” was as much part of the bible as the ones allegedly opposed to gay people? Would it have an impact? Would it shame them? I don’t know but anything is worth trying at this late date. Perhaps it won’t work politically next year, since the groundwork of anti-Latino bigotry has been so well laid by hate-talk media. But Democratic strategists should always be on the look out for what the corporate media is preparing for use by Republican candidates and they should attack early and continually, pointing out that it is morally repugnant. It is only by a wall of resistance that hate campaigns can be fought. When you have the entire commercial media against you, you have to use every weapon available. If Lou Dobbs had been condemned for his promotion of bigotry over the past several years one of the potentially most potent tools of division and conquest by the party of the privileged it might not work as well as it probably will.

Ok, maybe the picture of Matalin was over the top. But ain't it the truth?