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11/12/2004

Opposition to Gonzales

Yglesias is right, that the Democrats should oppose Gonzales but not filibuster. Every Democrat with a sense of decency should stand and give some variation of the following:

I oppose the elevation of this man to the head of the Department of Justice. Belittling death penalty clemency petitions is not justice. Evading the rule of law by secretly undermining the Geneva Conventions is not justice. Condoning torture is not justice. Discarding due process is not justice. Protecting the President, one man, over the good name of the United States of America is not justice. For years Albert Gonzales has covered for George W. Bush, and he will continue to do so in his new position. This appointment ensures that the people will not find out from their government how it operates, or why it makes the decisions it does. This appointment leaves that responsibility with the Democratic Party and the press.

Veterans Day, A Bit Late

Recognizing the reality of Gulf War Syndrome is a start to honoring veterans. Research, if intended to illuminate a path forward rather than just delay, is also a positive sign.

Third Way

Third Way is the latest in a series of organizations aimed at rescuing Democrats from the perception that they have lost touch with middle-class voters, particularly in the heartland states that voted overwhelmingly for President Bush over Sen. John F. Kerry. [WP]
[Ignoring glaring abuse of reportorial authority and mindless repetition of conersvative spin.] If there is really an unfilled niche for a centrist legislative shop, I hope Third Way can fill it. There is room in the Democratic Party for the center, center left, and left.

Evan Bayh, unfortunately, is an obstacle to Democratic unity:
'The answer to the ideological extremes of the right has to be more than rigid dogma from the left,' said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), whose state gave 60 percent of its votes to Bush, and who will be at tonight's strategy session.
Everytime the centrist Democrats attack liberals, they are playing into Karl Rove's hands.

Tenet's Speaking Fees

Something is wrong when a man makes $500,000 in four months in speaking fees paid by business groups for private engagements, revealing secrets and insights he learned at public expense. It is important to retain incentives for talented people to enter public life, but Mr. Tenet appears to be whoring information that is of the highest public interest. If he wants to talk about the bad intelligence used to justify the war, he should talk to all of us, not just those willing to pay $35,000.

Mosul Not Alone

It reads like all of Iraq is burning. Alissa Rubin and Tyler Marshall in the LAT pinpoint the cause:

There is little doubt that American-led forces will recapture Fallouja within days, the analysts say. But U.S. officials who are planning for the election face another challenge: a law and order vacuum in many Sunni Muslim areas where there are no American or Iraqi forces and insurgents can operate with impunity.

Masked gunmen patrol these places, particularly at night, assassinating government officials, carrying out kidnappings and intimidating the people.

"There are large areas of countryside that are controlled 24 hours a day by the mujahedin, where people do not see U.S. forces," said Charles Heyman, a senior defense analyst for the London-based Jane's Defence Weekly.

With voting scheduled to take place in less than three months, there has been no let-up in insurgent attacks nor any sign that the government can curb them.

"You need to be able to replicate the density of troops now in Fallouja right across the Sunni Triangle, at least, and in Baghdad, and we don't have enough soldiers to do that. And it's hopeless to pretend Iraqis have the ability to do that," Heyman said.

Pentagon officials Wednesday denied that a security vacuum had developed in some areas, stating that Iraqi security forces were growing in strength and that patrols by U.S.-led forces were conducted routinely throughout the Sunni Triangle — the heavily populated Sunni areas of central Iraq north and west of Baghdad where guerrilla attacks have been most prevalent.

"Every day we're gaining more control over the Sunni Triangle region, and the Fallouja operation is an example of that," said a senior defense official who declined to be identified.

President Bush said this week that he would consider any request for additional forces, but that U.S. military leaders "have yet to say, 'We need a substantial number of troops.' "

Nevertheless, insurgents continue to carry out attacks sowing widespread fear. In recent violence, insurgents have assassinated police officers and left their bodies in the road; they have hung the empty uniforms of slain Iraqi national guardsmen like scarecrows to warn off anyone thinking of joining the security forces; have set up checkpoints at which they robbed and threatened people. They have staged mortar and rocket attacks and vanished down back alleys and country roads. They are increasingly demonstrating an ability to shut down civic life even in many urban areas.

Crackdown on Fallujah Critics

US troops and Iraqi security forces raided the homes of three prominent Sunni critics of the Fallujah assault, and have detained one. The Association of Muslim Scholars called for a boycott of the elections "described as being held 'over the corpses of those killed in Fallujah, and the blood of the wounded.'

'The scholars of Iraq place full legal responsibility on Iyad Allawi for the genocide Fallujah is exposed to at the hands of occupation forces and a bunch of Iraqi National Guardsmen who cooperate with them,' association director Sheik Hareth al-Dhari said in a statement aired throughout the Islamic world on satellite television. His organization claims to represent more than 3,000 of Iraq's Sunni mosques." [KR]

The Iraqi government has used its emergency powers to threaten news organizations.

Update, 11/12/04, 5:44 AM EST: Hannah Allam and Yasser Salihee of Knight Ridder put the raids in the broader context of rising tensions between Sunnis and Shiites. Sunni clerics have escalated their rhetoric in response to Fallujah, providing more explicit sanction for attacks, while also criticizing Shiites for not condemning the assault.

Mosul in Flames

Rory McCarthy and Michael Howard of the Guardian report that insurgents have overwhelmed the Iraqi police forces in Mosul, raiding police stations and attempting to take the office of a Kurdish political party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Apparently insurgents fled Fallujah prior to the assault, planning assaults on other cities while American troops were preoccupied. Kurds are worried about being targetted.

A senior Kurdish official in Mosul said he believed the gunmen were militants loyal to the wanted Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and former Ba'athists. He said the men had arrived three days ago from Falluja and Samarra, another troubled Sunni town.

The official, who declined to be named, said: "They are working together and know what they are doing. They have had a lot of notice about the Falluja assault, and were prepared to move the fight."
Edward Harris of AP reports allegations that the Iraqi police forces offered little resistance:
Saadi Ahmed, a senior member of the pro-American Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, said nine police stations were attacked and that "Iraqi police turned some stations over to the terrorists."

"The internal security forces ... are a failure and are ineffective because some of them are cooperating with the terrorists," Ahmed said.
According to the AP's situation report, insurgents looted police stations of bulletproof vests and weapons, strutted through the city burning police cars, held the five bridges across the Tigris, which runs through the middle of the city, and carried RPGs in front of the hospital. The US responded with air strikes and is apparently mobilizing Kurdish divisions of the Iraqi security forces. Robert Worth and James Glanz of the New York Times add more on the US response:
The American military said it had mounted a major counteroffensive in Mosul hoping to contain the violence before guerrillas could seize the government center. But at nightfall, carloads of guerrillas continued to roam the streets freely, melting away at the approach of American troops.

"It's very fluid," Lt. Col. Paul Hastings, an Army spokesman, said in a telephone interview near midnight. "It's been going on for much of the day, and it's still going on."

Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of American forces in northern Iraq, said in an e-mail message early on Friday from his headquarters in Mosul that there had been "some tough fighting" on Thursday, but that the city was "quite calm" at the moment. "I do expect more attacks on Friday," General Ham said, adding that it was "hard to say if the enemy includes some who may have left Falluja, but clearly they are responding to operations there."

11/11/2004

Gonzales

I agree with the LAT editorial board: Gonzalez is a Disastrous Choice.

Update 5:37 PM EST: The Progress Report on his record.

Update 7:54 PM EST: The Washington Post has an editorial noting that Gonzales frequently flanked John Ashcroft from the right, timidly calling for a more "independent" figure.

Dana Milbank writes on his inspiring life story, contrasting his personal loyalty to Bush with Ashcroft's more rigid ideological demeanor. Despite skepticism from conservatives, I am a bit befuddled by the practical difference between embracing hard right positions out of personal loyalty to a hard right ideologue, and embracing them for their own sake.

Phil Carter in Slate focuses on much the same ground highlighted in the Progress Report above: Gonzales' irresponsible performance on Texas' clemency memoranda, his unilateral undermining of the Geneva conventions, his legal sophistry on behalf of torture, and his evasion of accountability.

David Savage and Edwin Chen of the Los Angeles Times report Gonzales' 1996 efforts to keep Bush's DUI arrest under the radar by getting him out of jury duty. They note that having a loyalist at DoJ has historically been quite helpful in limiting scandal inquiries.

Jesse Holland of the AP notes that liberals will focus on the clemency memos and the torture/Geneva Conventions issues at the nomination hearing. Leahy and Kennedy are quoted on the torture issues, while only anti-death penalty activists are quoted on the clemency issues. Holland also notes the conservative concern over his inadequately oppressive views on abortion.
Kevin Johnson in USA Today focuses on the "dramatic change in style" that would accompany the shift from Ashcroft to Gonzales. Gonzales is a "soft spoken team player" who "mostly has worked behind the scenes" to advance Bush's interests. Johnson mentions Gonzales' support for the PATRIOT Act, the military tribunal system, his work to increase government secrecy, and his "leading role in crafting a list of conservative federal court nominees that led to a series of nasty clashes with Senate Democrats," as well as the torture/Geneva convention issues. He reports Ed Meese, John Cornyn, and Orrin Hatch praising Gonzales, while Chuck Schumer offers the left-handed compliment of "better than Ashcroft," the Family Research Council and criticizing Gonzales from the right, and the ACLU, Human Rights First, and People for the American Way raising questions from the left.

Jennifer Loven of AP details how closely connected Gonzales is to Bush.

Gonzales' record is bad enough. More important, though, is the contempt he has shown for public oversight of Bush, and his likely role in impeding and undermining future efforts to figure out exactly why our government has been so poor over the last four years. He will stand as a roadblock against all efforts to hold Bush accountable. Combined with the administration's repeated stonewalling of all investigations and disclosures in the first term, the outlines of a deliberate strategy become clear.

Update, 11/12/4, 5:12 AM EST: The Johnston/Stevenson piece in the NYT also deserves mention. It resurfaces a few old details about the terror memos, but otherwise covers the dame ground.

11/10/2004

"Evangelical Revolution"

AP: RICHMOND, Va. Nov 9, 2004 — Seeking to take advantage of the momentum from an election where moral values proved important to voters, the Rev. Jerry Falwell announced Tuesday he has formed a new coalition to guide an "evangelical revolution."

Falwell, a religious broadcaster based in Lynchburg, Va., said the Faith and Values Coalition will be a "21st century resurrection of the Moral Majority," the organization he founded in 1979.

Falwell said he would serve as the coalition's national chairman for four years.

***

While overseeing the coalition, Falwell said he would leave day-to-day operations of Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church both of which he founded to his sons Jerry Jr., 42, and Jonathan, 38.

Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative law group Liberty Counsel in Orlando, Fla., will be the coalition's vice chairman; Jonathan Falwell will be its executive director. Theologian Tim LaHaye will be the board chairman.

International Rescue Committee Pulling Out of Iraq

The International Rescue Committee is joining Medicins sans Frontiers in pulling out of Iraq.

"It was time to make this call," Mark Bartolini, the agency's regional director for the Middle East and Asia, said in a telephone interview on Monday. "There's no question that security has played a big role in the decision."
CARE has also pulled out.

Stern is Right

Andy Stern, head of SEIU, wants to change the AFL-CIO. His recommendations include:

  1. "consolidating the federation's 60 unions, perhaps to less than 20, saying that many unions are too small to grapple with giant corporations."

  2. "Complaining that workers are often hurt when 10 or more unions represent workers in a single industry, Mr. Stern called for giving the A.F.L.-C.I.O. power to bar a union from negotiating a contract that undercuts the wages and benefits that unions in the same industry have already negotiated."

  3. "As part of an effort to make $2 billion available for unionizing efforts over the next five years, Mr. Stern called yesterday for giving half the dues that member unions pay the A.F.L.-C.I.O. back to the unions so they would have more money available for organizing."

  4. "He also proposed using the $25 million in royalties that the A.F.L.-C.I.O. gets each year from its Union Plus credit card to organize Wal-Mart, the nation's largest corporation."

  5. "have unions back national health care reform and have unions back a campaign to pressure employers not to interfere in organizing drives."
All those sound like good ideas to me. What's troubling is the response of the head of the Machinist's union:
"It's not Andy Stern's role in life to say to 60 other international unions that you got to do it my way or the highway," Mr. Sloan said. "That's just dead wrong. There's an arrogance to that. He fails by misunderstanding the nature of the labor movement - this isn't a set of elites that dictates to us. This is a democratic movement."
SEIU is not a "set of elites." Putting forward an agenda for change is not "arrogant." Maybe there is some personal tension here, but Sloan's response is completely ridiculous.

Update, 11/10/04, 5:25 PM EST: For more on Stern's plans, see his new blog, Unite to Win.

Updaye, 11/10/04, 5:52 PM EST: On a somewhat related note, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed an FEC complaint against SEIU:
"SEIU officials used the hard-earned wages of rank-and-file workers to bankroll the campaigns of hundreds of political candidates across America," said the foundation's president, Stefan Gleason. The group opposes mandatory union dues and provides free legal representation for members with allegations of union abuse.
Based solely on their press release, the complaint is obviously garbage. If the FEC were to declare ACT a "political campaign," it wouldn't be in this case. Spending funds from "dues-paying members" is not the same thing as spending dues.

Let's Get Our Wedge On

Digby is right - "moral values" - are almost entirely tribal, resentment not based on our condescension or our issues, but on our existence. To the conservative base, not even our total submission would be enough. The problem is that we have let them build a tribe of 51%, a hodgepodge of people that should not be together, sustained only by liberal decency and reticence to ruthlessly politicize private issues. 11/2/04 calls out for a little indecency.

First, let's wedge issue creationism. Some liberals want us to show more "respect" for creationism, but that is a strategy doomed to failure. We aren't creationists, we will never be admitted to the creationist tribe, and recognition of the legitimacy of their beliefs will just strengthen them, which aren't deserving of respect. They are wrong, and their views are bad. Businesses are stronger with a science-literate workforce. We are losing jobs when biotech companies outsource to GBR. Catholics aren't creationists. Seculars aren't creationists. Scientists aren't creationists. Creationism is a perfect opportunity to talk about the economic advantages of investment in social and human capital. Can't you just see the ads that should be running in Atlanta right now? A gloomy picture of a boarded up biotech company, the face of an employer frustrated by the poor education of his employees, a doctor sending home a person in a wheelchair, hands raised in resignation. That's what you get with creationism.

Second, lets inflame the evangelical-Catholic divide. Maybe it's an artifact of our blue-state insularity, but there are huge, vulnerable divisions between Catholics and evangelicals. Catholics don't spend a lot of time thinking about evangelical Christians, but evangelicals spend a ton of time thinking about Catholics. Our job should be to make sure Catholics know it. We should run clip after clip of evangelical preachers condemning Catholics to the firelake. We should run a lot of them in Spanish. As a cultural Catholic, it absolutely disgusts me that so many of my Catholic brethren identify themselves with these revanchists, in parallel to the Likudnik-Apocalyptic alliance.

Third, lets undermine the importance of public proclamations of faith. The emphasis we now place rewards Machiavellian liars, not people of principle or faith. There has been much talk about liberals needing to Godtalk more. Bullshit. It won't persuade many and it will look inauthentic. Liberals don't wear their faith on their sleeves, but in their hearts - getting into a moralizing arms race is bad for the country. Mainline Protestants and Catholics who think John Kerry is a bad Catholic think so because they were internalizing conservative talking points. We can assuage those people's fear, separate them from the Conservative tribe, through a proxy campaign. We need to spend the next 4 years building on John Kerry's faith without works quote, talking about how evangelicals shouldn't be the only people allowed to participate in public life - how they are excluded from the system by evangelical bigotry.

* We need to come up with a single word that references the Christian right. "Evangelical" obviously doesn't cut it, but I'm ok with it for this rant.

Update, 11/10/04, 4:04 PM EST: Sex education too:

Yet according to at least one survey, there are plenty of parents who'd get behind a sex ed bake sale. An August poll commissioned by Protect Our Kids, a coalition founded to oppose the textbooks, found that 90 percent of Texans "favor teaching students age-appropriate, medically accurate information on abstinence, birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV." That's up from 86 percent in 2001. (A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey yielded similar results nationally.) "People understand that this is no longer a controversial issue," says Dan Quinn, spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, a coalition member. "It's astonishing to see that this is still a matter of debate."

Fines for Dealing with Terror Financing States Drop Under Bush

Fines levied against doing business with "terrorist sponsoring states" by the Office of Foreign Assets Control have dropped by almost two thirds since 9/11, according to an AP analysis. The administration spun this weakened enforcement as evidence that corporations were self-regulating. Unlikely:

Vice President Dick Cheney was a vocal critic of trade embargoes while he headed Halliburton, a Houston-based oil services conglomerate, from 1995 to 2000. Under Cheney, Halliburton expanded its trade with Iran through an offshore subsidiary. That arrangement is being investigated by a federal grand jury.

Nineteen executives or directors of companies fined by OFAC for dealing with state sponsors of terrorism were top campaign fund-raisers for Bush.

One example is Joseph J. Grano Jr., chairman of the federal Homeland Security Advisory Council, which the president created by executive order and whose members he selected. Grano formerly headed the U.S. subsidiary of the Swiss bank UBS AG. It paid more than $100 million in fines for trading U.S. currency to Iran and other nations and for transferring funds to Iraq during Hussein's rule.
Our security is at the whim of the highest bidder for the next four years.

11/09/2004

Shoulder Fired Missiles

This is old news (almost 72 hours), but can't be allowed to fall down the memory hole: in addition to doing nothing to secure the al Qaqaa explosives site, the administration's poor planning let up to 4000 shoulder fired missiles fall into the hands of Iraqi insurgents:

The U.S.-led invasion forces did not secure all weapons depots in Iraq, and hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions were looted. U.S. officials fear that the shoulder-launched missiles were among the items carried off by groups willing to sell them on the black market to terrorist organizations. [WP 11/7/04]
Those missiles both increase the in-theater risk to our troops and increase the threat of terrorism. The 4000 misplaced missiles triple the total global count of such weapons available to non-state actors:
A new government estimate says a total of 6,000 of the weapons may be outside the control of any government, up from a previous estimate of 2,000, American officials said. [NYT 11/6/04]
The GAO recently released a report on shoulder fired missiles, calculating the threat posed by the missiles and faulting poor US export controls [PDF] of the Stinger. ("The disposition of Stinger missiles sold overseas is unknown because DOD’s Stinger inventory inspection process is flawed." - GAO-04-519 p.7) [see also MSNBC, 6/4/04]

Democrats, led by Congressman Steve Israel and Sen. Barbara Boxer, have legislation to subsidize technical countermeasures for commercial aircraft, strengthen international agreements on export controls and destroy surplus stockpiles.
"Once again we learn terrorists are stockpiling, while the Bush Administration is studying," said Rep. Israel. "We must go on offense and defense at the same time to protect ourselves. We cannot afford to leave this vitally important issue to bureaucrats in the Administration. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, if this is not a clear sign that we need to equip commercial aircraft with countermeasures to protect against shoulder-fired missiles, I’m not sure what is short of a catastrophe."
More info: FAS; Wassenaar MANPADS agreement [thanks, Madeleine]; APEC agreement [PDF, p.3]; Small Arms Survey [PDF]; GAO Testimony GAO-04-592T [PDF, pp.14-15].

Cofer Black Resigned

Cofer Black, the head of counterterrorism in the Department of State, resigned on Friday.

Richard Clarke:

Cofer Black was a hard-charging, get-it-done kind of CIA officer who had proved himself in the back alleys of unsavory places. He was what the CIA needed a lot more of, but had little of. I had urged George Tenet to find such a guy to run the Counterterrorism Center, someone who shared Tenet's view and mine that we had to go on the offensive. Unfortunately, Black reported to Tenet through the CIA's Deputy Director for Operations, Jim Pavitt, and Pavitt thought both Tenet and I were exaggerating the whole al Qaeda threat and would get CIA in trouble. [Against All Enemies, 205]
Clarke and Black worked together on the millenium plots, apparently doing a bang up job. Black shared Clarke's frustration with the bureaucratic inertia and incompetent leadership that hindered effective coutnerterrorism policy. And apparently it got to him. He released a 2003 State Dept. report falsely showing that terrorist attacks were dropping. He released a 2004 State Dept. report again falsely claiming that attacks were dropping - but this time the errors were discovered. He also made some questionable comments about Pakistan's efforts to turn up OBL right after the Republican Convention. Black was a big talker:
Soon after this episode, I visited the office of Cofer Black, a veteran of the C.I.A. whom President Bush appointed last year to be the State Department’s coördinator for counter-terrorism. If Black was isappointed about the failure to find bin Laden, he did not betray it. He leaned forward across the coffee table separating us and said emphatically, "The guy’s a goner. The only question is whether he’ll be arrested in cuffs or taken dead. He deserves to die."

If bin Laden was killed, Black continued, the world would demand proof. "You’d need some DNA," he said. "There’s a good way to do it. Take a machete, and whack off his head, and you’ll get a bucketful of DNA, so you can see it and test it. It beats lugging the whole body back!"
Interesting Testimony:

Testimony to 9/11 Commission [PDF] 9/26/02
Report on House Testimony
Intelligence Reform 8/19/04

11/08/2004

Goss Appoints "Dusty"

Enjoying his newfound job security, Porter Goss has appointed "Dusty" Executive Director of the CIA. Dusty is a 22 year undercover logistics officer who primarily worked within the "Office of Global Support" [NYT], which may have been formerly known as the Office of Deployed and Externally Assigned Personnel in the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency [PDF about the name change].

This is probably better than the appointment of an open Republican hack, but it raises a number of problems. Most importantly: how is democratic oversight of the CIA supposed to work when covert operatives are being elevated to the highest positions? Walter Pincus, who broke the story for the Post, reports that he "will become public fairly soon," but how much transparency will there really be? There are very real fears both about the CIA's vulnerability to politicization and about Goss' intentions. Appointing covert operatives isn't reassuring.

Dusty's experience is important and the guy probably has a lot to offer. But the Executive Director "manages the day-to-day administrative activities of the $5 billion agency, including personnel and budgeting matters, while the director and deputy director focus on intelligence and clandestine operations," according to Pincus. Reuters
reports
:

A former intelligence official said putting someone who had run offices that rented spaces and made sure supplies were delivered for various operations into one of the top jobs at the spy agency was "leaping many layers."
Reuters also notes that Dusty came to Goss' attention because he sniped about the CIA to Goss' House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. According to Pincus, he was close to the Republican staff members Goss has already brought over to the Agency.

Background on Goss
.

Goss' Purge.

Update, 11/9/04, 3:59 PM EST: Laura Rozen highlights an alarming article from the NY Sun's Eli Lake. Goss is purging the CIA, replacing "80 people who are holding jobs they should not be holding" with "some of the old bulls around in (President Reagan's director of central intelligence) Bill Casey's day."

Rozen seems to have mixed feelings about the changes, but I'm a bit more cynical. Goss is restoring the "moral values" of the Iran-Contra era. He is putting our security in the hands of people that have an outdated, statecentric, Sovietological approach to national security. He has embraced partisan "it's our due" thinking - Robert Baer says "people in the CIA bet on the wrong horse....Goss is going to clean house." This is what we were all worried about with Goss - that he would be guided not by what's best for the nation but by conservative sympathies and biases. He is already on the Woolsey path.

11/07/2004

Federal Railroad Administration

Union Pacific is getting favorable treatment from the Federal Railroad Administration because of personal ties between the agency head and UP's chief Washington lobbyist, industry donations to Republicans, and a "partnership" approach to safety.

The "partnership" approach has no deterrence value, providing an incentive for corporations to sacrifice safety for profits; for example:

In another memo, from November 2002, F.R.A. inspectors said that because Union Pacific had done a poor job of fixing track defects near Shreveport, La., trains should not have been allowed to go faster than 10 to 15 miles per hour. Even so, the inspector said, the railroad raised the speed of the track back up to 75 m.p.h. for passenger trains and 70 m.p.h. for freight trains.
Democrats should buy newspaper ads in every market where UP has had an accident - including LA for the special elections.

George Gavalla is the whistleblower. He was explicitly warned to back off UP.

Rove: Discriminating Against Gays Key to "Hopeful and Decent" Society

Reuters: President Bush will renew a quest in his second term for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage as essential to a "hopeful and decent" society, his top political aide said on Sunday.

***

"He (Bush) believes that there are ways that states can deal with some of the issues that have been raised, for example, visitation rights in hospitals, or the right to inherit, or benefit rights, property rights, but these can all be dealt with at the state level, without overturning the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman."
Update, 11/8/04, 3:56 PM EST: The Salon war room notes that 60% of Americans support legal protection for gay couples.

Assault on Fallujah Under Way

We took a hospital and two bridges late Sunday night.

Evangelical Social Justice

Regarding the Mark Schmitt-Matt Yglesias-TM Scanlon discussion on "social justice" in conservative evangelical Christianity: how are the good works of the evangelical community different from the charities set up by Al Qaeda and its ilk to build and sustain Jihadi support networks? The only difference I can think of is that Jihadis already embrace violence - both support the works for an ulterior motive - conversion of the heathens and infidels.

"Moral Values" and Anti-Catholicism

Nobody seems to have a solid grasp on what "moral values" were so important to the 22% of the population that claimed they voted on them. The conventional wisdom - gay marriage, abortion, etc. - obviously seems to have some merit. But there have been some fairly convincing rebuttals, or at least questioning, of that CW - turnout wasn't noticeably higher in states with gay marriage on the ballot, and Bush's performance wasn't better. Pre-election polling sheds no light, and the post-election picture seems only to be getting cloudier. Something energized these voters, and whatever it was, it originated in the smoke filled rectories (or whatever the parallel is in non-Catholic churches) of suburban and rural churches.

One suggestion that would have been obvious two years ago is that some people voted on anti-Catholic prejudices. A subtext of anti-Catholicism reared its ugly head throughout the campaign, most notably in Marvin Olasky's "Once Born" op-ed, but also in the reaction to some of Kerry's statements on reproductive rights, and in criticism of Kerry's discussion of his personal faith. The guy is a devout Catholic and a former altar boy, yet was branded with the scarlet S, for secular - Catholicism is not real Christianity to a significant number of evangelicals.

This argument seems implausible after the election because of how much organizational work Republicans did in Catholic parishes and the high profile effort by conservate Catholics like Chaput to deny Kerry communion or get him excommunicated. This smokescreen shouldn't be taken as evidence that significant portions of the evangelical electorate have discarded their anti-Catholic sentiment. Growing up in Kentucky, it was only ten years ago that my friends and contemporaries in the Baptist schools were being given talking points on "How to Save a Catholic" or "The Finer Points of Mary Worship" or "Catholicism and Cannibalism." I doubt those schools have changed their curriculum much.

The apparent reconciliation between conservative evangelicals and conservative Catholics probably bears significant similarities to the reconciliation with conservative Jews. We'll work with them 'til Armageddon, but they're still bound for the lake of fire, which would have to freeze over before I'd vote for 'em.

 

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