My hero Jimmy Carter took some swipes at President Bush at the funeral of Coretta Scott King:
In an apparent swipe at the domestic eavesdropping programme authorised by Mr Bush as part of the war against terror, Mr Carter recalled how Mrs King and her husband had been the targets of secret government wiretapping.
“It was difficult for them personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated, and they became the targets of secret government wiretapping and other surveillance,” he said.
Mr Carter also referred to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as evidence that the struggle for civil rights was not complete. “We only have to recall the colour of the faces of those in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi who are most devastated by Katrina to know that there are not yet equal opportunities for all Americans,” he said.
There was some discussion over on MetaFilter about whether this was the appropriate forum for such criticisms, and I have to agree with those MeFites who think that these comments were not only appropriate but a tribute to what Mr. and Mrs. King stand for. For instance:
MLK and Coretta were all about telling the truth to power. MLK paid the ultimate price for doing so. I think Coretta would have been absolutely thrilled that Carter stood up and spoke strongly for civil rights at her funeral. Her entire life was devoted to criticizing the establishment and pushing it to do better. For this woman, in this time and place, what better possible way could there be to say goodbye?
Here’s a great analogy from Fred Clark, a.k.a. Slacktivist:
I might be less skeptical of the Bush administration’s claim to be planning to cut the federal deficit in half over the next five (now four) years if they produced even the hint of something resembling a plan or an explanation of how they intend to do this.
It doesn’t help their credibility on this point that they’re also playing “Mom, I’m pregnant” every year with their deficit projections.
My friend Michelle got a tattoo, a modest, but conspicuous little dolphin on her ankle. This was bound to freak out her mom. So before showing her mom the ink, she told her she was pregnant. After letting her really freak out over that for a bit, she said, “Relax, mom, I’m not pregnant. I just got a tattoo and I didn’t want you to blow this out of proportion.”
No offense to Michelle, but this is a pretty dishonest trick. In her defense, she only did it once. The Bush administration has done this same thing year after year.
They project record-shattering deficits of half a trillion dollars or so, so that later, when the merely record-breaking figure of around $400 billion comes out they can claim that they’ve actually reduced the deficit from their previous, Mom-I’m-pregnant projection.
So, everyone wants to know what Samuel Alito really thinks about issues like abortion. Gosh, how refreshing it would be for him (or any other SCOTUS nominee) just to say: “Well, personally, I have X option of Y subject, but my personal opinion has no bearing on my job as judge.” Instead, we get this elaborate dance. Why can’t people accept that an individual could have one personal opinion and a different professional opinion?
It looks like Karl Rove has started framing the discourse for the mid-term elections. Regarding the issue of the Iraq war, an AP article reported:
Without specifically mentioning Democrats, the president urged politicians to ”conduct this debate responsibly.”
He said he welcomed ”honest critics,” but he termed irresponsible ”partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil or because of Israel or because we misled the American people,” as well as ”defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right.”
With that description, Bush lumped the many Democrats who have accused him of twisting prewar intelligence with the few people, mostly outside the mainstream, who have raised issues of oil and Israel.
Bush argued that irresponsible discussion harms the morale of troops overseas, emboldens insurgents and sets a bad example for Iraqis trying to establish democracy.
”In a free society, there’s only one check on political speech and that’s the judgment of the American people,” the president said to applause from a gathering of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. ”So I ask all Americans to hold their elected leaders to account and demand a debate that brings credit to our democracy, not comfort to our adversaries.”
”Patriotic Americans will continue to ask the tough questions because our brave men and women in Iraq, their families and the American people deserve to know that their leaders are being held accountable,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
So, if you question the president’s handling of the war, you’re dishonest, irresponsible, defeatist, partisan, treasonous and unpatriotic. Nice.
According to a new Harris poll:
Sizeable minorities of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein had “strong links to al Qaeda,” a Harris Interactive poll shows, though the number has fallen substantially this year.
About 22% of U.S. adults believe Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11, the poll shows, and 26% believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded. Another 24% believe several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis, according to the online poll of 1,961 adults.
However, all of these beliefs have declined since February of this year, when 64% of those polled believed Mr. Hussein had strong links to al Qaeda and 46% said Mr. Hussein helped plan 9/11. At that time, more than a third said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and 44% said several of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis.
Currently, 56% of adults believe Iraqis are better off now than they were under Mr. Hussein, down from 76% in February. Nearly half of those polled say they believe Iraq, under Mr. Hussein, was a threat to U.S. security, down from 61% in February.
Can that many people really be that ignorant? At least the numbers are declining.
In light of the news that the administration has been spying on Americans, John Scalzi posts his thoughts on if and when a president should be impeached. As usual with John, it’s a well written blog post (hell, it should be well written; he’s a professional writer!).
But I take issue with John on a couple of points. He writes:
Now, let’s posit that the president knew his actions were illegal, but didn’t care. Would that merit impeachment? In my opinion, no — if the president could prove that his actions saved Americans from imminent harm that following the law could not have prevented.
In reference to an even more extreme possible circumstance, John writes:
If we granted that the president both knew what he was doing was illegal and that it was determined that such evasion of law was entirely unnecessary, now are we talking impeachment? This is the point where I go “gaaaaaaaaah” and raise a point that will be entirely unpersuasive to many, which is that I genuinely believe that Bush wants to protect Americans, and that matters to a non-trivial extent. I’d be loathe to impeach a president for that, and I would find it difficult to support people who would. There, I’ve said it: I don’t think you get impeached for trying to protect Americans.
That may work with captains of fictional star ships named Enterprise, but I don’t buy it in real life. As some commenters to the post remark, this is the top of one long slippery slope. The law doesn’t account for good intentions (ok, ill intent is a critical part of many laws, but generally, you’re still breaking some law whether you do it with good or ill intent; it’s just that ill intent gets you a harsher punishment).
I’m not sure this is completely relevant, but John’s blog post reminded me of a common parenting situation:
- Child #1 is doing something stupid that could result in harm to child #2.
- Parent tells child #1 to stop because it could harm child #2.
- Child #1 ignores parent
- Child #1′s action results in anticipated harm to child #2
- Parent turns his/her attention to child #1, and even before the parent can open his/her mouth, child #1 is screaming, “But I didn’t mean to harm child #2
- Parent responds: “Well, I’m assuming you weren’t doing this reckless action in order to harm child #2. But the fact remains that you ignored the possible consequences and an order to stop it lest you harm child #2. You’re still just as guilty.
President Bush: go to your room without your dinner. No TV, no telephone!
From the American Civil Liberties Union web site:
When the angry phone calls and emails started arriving at the office, I knew the holiday season was upon us. A typical message shouted that we at the American Civil Liberties Union are “horrible” and “we should be ashamed of ourselves,” and then concluded with an incongruous and agitated “Merry Christmas.”
We get this type of correspondence a lot, mostly in reaction to a well-organized attempt by extremist groups to demonize the ACLU, crush religious diversity, and make a few bucks in the process. Sadly, this self-interested effort is being promoted in the guise of defending Christmas.
In truth, it is these website Christians who are taking the Christ out of the season. Nowhere in the Sermon on the Mount did Jesus Christ ask that we celebrate His birth with narrow-mindedness and intolerance, especially for those who are already marginalized and persecuted. Instead, the New Testamentâ€”like the Torah and the Koran and countless other sacred textsâ€”commands us to love our neighbor, and to comfort the sick and the imprisoned.
That’s what the ACLU does. We live in a country filled with people who are sick and disabled, people who are imprisoned, and people who hunger and thirst for justice. Those people come to our Indiana offices for help, at a rate of several hundred a week, usually because they have nowhere else to turn. The least of our brothers and sisters sure aren’t getting any help from the Alliance Defense Fund or WorldNet Daily. So, as often as we can, ACLU secures justice for those folks who Jesus worried for the most.
As part of our justice mission, we work hard to protect the rights of free religious expression for all people, including Christians. For example, we recently defended the First Amendment rights of a Baptist minister to preach his message on public streets in southern Indiana. The ACLU intervened on behalf of a Christian valedictorian in a Michigan high school, which agreed to stop censoring religious yearbook entries, and supported the rights of Iowa students to distribute Christian literature at their school.
Happy Holidays to all!
A U.S. District Judge ruled today that the Dover, Pennsylvania school board can’t force the teaching of intelligent design. That is welcome news in and of itself, but as an extra bonus, the judge’s finding is very strongly worded (emphasis added):
The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Boardâ€™s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.
Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffsâ€™ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.
To be sure, Darwinâ€™s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions. The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.
With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Boardâ€™s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.
You go, Judge Jones!
UPDATE: It appears that Judge Jones was appointed by George W. Bush. Clearly one of those pesky liberal activist judges. Awesome.
A law professor has evaluated the federal tax code on the basis of Judeo-Christian ethics, and found it immoral. The abstract of the paper:
This article severely criticizes the Bush Administration’s tax policies under the moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics. I first document that Judeo-Christian ethics is the most relevant moral analysis for tax policy because almost eighty percent of Americans and well over ninety percent of the Congress, including President Bush, claim to adhere to the Christian or Jewish faiths. I also show that evaluating federal tax policy under Judeo-Christian principles not only passes constitutional muster but is also appropriate under the norms of a democracy. I then provide a complete theological framework that can be applied to any tax policy structure. Using sources that include leading Evangelical and other Protestant scholars, Papal Encyclicals and Jewish scholars, I prove that tax policy structures meeting the moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics must raise adequate revenues that not only cover the needs of the minimum state but also ensure that all citizens have a reasonable opportunity to reach their potential. Among other things, reasonable opportunity requires adequate education, healthcare, job training and housing. Using these theological sources, I also establish that flat and consumption tax regimes which shift a large part of the burden to the middle classes are immoral. Consequently, Judeo-Christian based tax policy requires the tax burden to be allocated under a moderately progressive regime. I discuss the difficulties of defining that precisely and also conclude that confiscatory tax policy approaching a socialistic framework is also immoral. I then apply this Judeo-Christian ethical analysis to the first term Bush Administration’s tax cuts and find those policies to be morally problematic. Using a wealth of sources, I then establish that the moral values driving the Bush Administration’s tax policy decisions reflect objectivist ethics, a form of atheism that exalts individual property rights over all other moral considerations. Given the overwhelming adherence to Christianity and Judaism, I conclude that President Bush, many members of Congress and many Americans are not meeting the moral obligations of their faiths, and, I argue that tax policy must start reflecting genuine Judeo-Christian values if the country is to survive in the long run.