Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Big Lie Behind the "Christian" Right

The entire underlying premise of the so called "Christian" Right is based on a lie. If you want to be kinder, you may call it a myth. I do not. It is an outright lie, and should be exposed as such.

Otherwise tolerant Christians were fed the big lie that their religion was under attack from the bogey man secular left. You know, those, nasty, rotten, elitist Liberals. This was the glue that has held the Christian Right together. It is the circle the wagons mentality, the "us" against "them" reflex. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact of the matter is the the United States is the most religious, and most religiously tolerant country on the planet. Exit polls from the 2006 election showed 83% of voters self identifying as members of Judeo - Christian religions. Another 6% identified as belonging to an "other" religion. Only 11% identified themselves as having no religion. Is the vast majority of Americans frightened about being under attack from that 11%. That's ludicrous on its face.

Nevertheless, this has been the basic underpinning of the Christian Right movement. What is under attack in this country is the separation of church and state. This is the very provision for religious freedom in the Constitution, the one that has allowed this country to be the most religious and religiously tolerant country in the history of the world. Those who would breach this wall should be very careful what they wish for. This provision was placed in the Constitution at the insistence of those who knew the sufferings of religious intolerance. Those who profess to believe in the wisdom of the Founders should ponder that.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Conservative Worldview Breeds Incompetence

Over at Rockridge Nation, they have up a particularly important post on the framing of the incompetence of the Bush administration. Every Republican on the planet is now backing away from Bush and declaring him not a true conservative. This is their explanation for his failures and incompetence in governing.

We need not concede that point. In fact, we can take that frame completely away from them. Follow me below the jump to see how we can do this.

Blog Florida Blue

Cross Posted from Florida Kossacks

From the Rockridge post:
What many conservatives are doing today is playing the "blame game," or the "bad apple" defense. It's all Bush's fault, these failures, not ours. We are different, better, competent. The Rockridge Institute pointed out in a piece last year,"Bush is Not Incompetent," that Bush wasn't a failure at all; in fact, by conservatives' standards, he is quite the success. He has achieved many of their goals; that these ended in apparent failure points not to incompetence, or a deviation off the golden conservative path, but to the failure of the conservative vision at its heart.

In a piece behind the firewall in today's New York Times, David Greenberg, a professor at Rutgers University, had this to say:
...if any president has tried to implement conservative ideals, it’s Bush... The result — in the assessment of not just liberals but also other observers — has been disaster: a mess of a war, the failure to plan for Hurricane Katrina, the erosion of the church-state wall, widening inequality, the loss of civil liberties including habeas corpus, and scores of other ills that readers of this column can list as easily as I. This was the fruit of modern American conservatism.

There is a basic reason for this. The conservative worldview is ill equipped to govern and therefore naturally breeds incompetence in governance. The view that government is bad ill prepares conservatives to actually run the government.

Even in their supposed strength in national defense, their management of the armed services and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has proved disastrous. The Secretary of Defense's famous statement about going to war with the army you have rather than the army you wish you had is a case in point. These conservatives started a war of choice with a military, that by the Secretary's own words, was not the military he needed to do the job.

Other areas of governance have proved even more grossly incompetent. Their inept reaction to Hurricane Katrina is but one example of this. Having political hacks change the reports of scientists and threatening scientists over global warming is another. Management of the environment by people who truly don't believe in the efficacy of environmental management is a proven method of insuring incompetence.

This appears to me to be an area where we could all do a better job in framing our message. It may be true that the current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is particularly incompetent. However, this is by no means an aberration of conservative governance. We should not let the Republicans get away with framing this mess as if it were.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Bush's New Measure of Success in Iraq: A Timetable for Terrorists

In his post Iraq funding bill veto politicking (yes, Bush is playing politics with the troops), George Bush has come up with yet another measure for success in Iraq. There is something very remarkable about this measurement. It's one that has an extremely ironic twist.

How ironic? Follow me below the fold.

Cross Posted from Florida Kossacks

In November 2005, George Bush defined victory in Iraq this way:

Victory in Iraq is Defined in Stages

Short term, Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.

Medium term, Iraq is in the lead defeating terrorists and providing its own security, with a fully constitutional government in place, and on its way to achieving its economic potential.

Longer term, Iraq is peaceful, united, stable, and secure, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.

In a speech delivered on May 24, 2004, at the U.S. Army War College, in Carlisle, PA, Bush outlined the steps for success in Iraq:

There are five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom. We will hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government, help establish security, continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, encourage more international support, and move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.

Now on May 2, 2007, in a speech to the Associated General Contractors of America, George Bush unveiled his latest definition for success in Iraq:
the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain
level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people
feel comfortable about living their daily lives.

I heard Bush go on to say that sectarian violence staying down for some period of time would be his measure of success. That sounds very much like a timetable to me. Listen to what Bush had to say about timetables in the same speech:
imagine what a thinking enemy is doing when they hear timetables. Oh, you've got to be out by a certain date? Well, why don't we just wait.

Imagine what George Bush just said to the sectarian militias and insurgents. All you have to do is lay low for a while and we'll declare success and go home. Sounds pretty much like a timetable to me. Why is that any different than the type of timetable that was in the bill he just vetoed? As a matter of fact, the benchmarks in the vetoed bill were a lot more substantial than
sectarian violence down

Isn't George Bush afraid that after these bad guys lay low and sectarian violence goes down, that these bad guys will then not just follow us home?