Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards and Her Higher Power

Your blogstress has a new piece up at The American Prospect Online that examines Elizabeth Edwards unconventional ideas about God.


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Friday, July 27, 2007

Right wing goes rabid on soldier's story

Your blogstress, ensconced at the BlogHer conference in Chicago, is not in a position to expound on this, but she urges her devotees to familiarize themselves with this non-scandal.

Essentially, The New Republic ran several-first person pieces by a soldier based in Iraq, using a nom de plume composed of the private's first and middle names. The most recent piece by Pvt. Scott Thomas got the scoundrel patriots over at The Weekly Standard howling, as the solider wrote of his own callous behavior toward a wounded soldier, as well as some gruesome practices and animal torture by fellow soldiers.

Must've been made up, the righties roared. Made your blogstress think of all the righties who protested as unpatriotic members of the African-American Hemings family who claimed Thomas Jefferson as an ancestor. (Surely, our founding father wouldn't have committed adultery!!! With a Negro woman!!! That he owned!!!)

To these people, American soldiers are all good, bearers of Hershey bars, nylons and freedom to an ungrateful people. And founding fathers -- well, never mind the slaves they owned who looked a bit like the masters. Because Founding Fathers are paragons of virtue. And so are traumatized young men sent off to war.

To the credit of the TNR editors, they stood by their man while they investigated his story in response to the right-wing attack. And to the soldier's credit, he revealed his full name. Now he really needs our prayers.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Live-blogging the CNN/YouTube debate

Feel-good exercise

The last question -- Anderson Cooper asking each of candidates to say something nice about the candidate to his or her left -- was just silly. And John Edwards used his opportunity to say something about Hillary Clinton by calling attention to her gender, playfully saying he didn't like her coral-colored jacket, which he called a "coat."

Hillary was superb; looked like a president. Obama continues to impress. Having the two stand next to each other felt like a foreshadowing of things to come.

Bon soir, mes amis!

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Religion and the Democrats

Alas, this debate format does not allow for a substantive exploration of the the religious pressures on the Democrats, thanks to the likes of Rev. Jim Wallis. One young man, bravely stating his beliefs as atheist, asked if he had anything to fear from Democrats who pay lip service to evangelicals. I believe he does, though not nearly as much as he does from Republicans, whose party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the right-wing cabal that goes about cloaked in religious vestments.

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Great question on undocumented workers

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The new America

Never mind the substance of this guy's question on taxes. You gotta love a Persian (at least I think he's a Persian) singing in a Southern accent, strumming a Johnny Cash rhythm. Check out Remy:

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Nukes? Puh-leez!

Nukes? Puh-leez!

Barack Obama uttered his first big no-no, as far as your cybertrix is concerned, when he told this guy that nuclear power should be "part of the mix" of alternative fuel resources designed to reduce global warming. Hmmm...there's one drawback to embracing a presidential candidate too young to remember Three Mile Island.

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Greetings from a red state

These guys may be red-state shills, but they sure are funny. Great timing.

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Being taken seriously

Hillary Clinton was just asked by a U.S. serviceman, via video from Okinawa, whether she would be taken seriously by the leaders of Muslim countries where women "are regarded as second-class citizens."

Ooooo, that steely gaze left no uncertainty; Clinton said quite rightly that after her meetings with high-level officials in 82 countries, she was sure there was no doubt in her ability to be taken seriously. While she noted a number of women leading countries in today's world, none of those she mentioned lead Muslim countries. Would that she would have mentioned some of the female heroines of Islam.

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Splitting the difference
Edwards: I don't believe in gay marriage, but my wife does

If Edwards ever had a chance at getting the vote de l'ecrivaine, he just lost it.

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Gay marriage and the black church

We just heard from the Rev. Reggie Longcrier of Hickory, North Carolina, who is destined to be one of those momentary stars made by televised "town hall" candidate fora in presidential campaign years. The good reverend caused the audience to erupt in applause when he challenged John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, to explain why the candidate's "Baptist upbringing" offers adequate justification for being against gay marriage. Rev. Longcrier reminded the smooth-talking trial lawyer that the Bible was used to justify slavery and deny women the vote. What made that such a big deal? Rev. Longcrier is African-American, and the rap on the black church is always about how homophobic it is.

Your blogstress, errant Catholic that she is, has never bought that rap. By that, she doesn't mean that black churches don't have their share of homophobic leaders and followers; it's just no different there than among the members any other Christian church. Except that theirs aren't led by a confirmed bachelor who favors red Prada shoes and a charming Easter bonnet.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Get out the pliers and lemon juice

In case you missed it, mes amis, Pope Benedict XVI last week asserted moral supremecy over the whole planet. That was right after le Saint-Père gave the go-ahead for the schismatic righties who defied the Holy See on the matter of the Latin Mass to resume their use of the Tridentine rite, which Jews remember as having references to their "perfidy."

Over at The Reality-Based Community, Mark Kleiman cheers the pope's move as one that could pull a wedgie on the coalition of evangelicals and right-wing Catholics that has brought a great republic to its knees in, lo, these last two decades. More a piece than a post, this one knocks me out. The man can write:

For any liberal of my vintage, regardless of denomination, Pope John XXIII is one of the great heroes of the '60s. It is one of the ironies of history that the ecumenical movement associated with the Second Vatican Council was among the preconditions of the movement Andrew Sullivan calls "Christianism": the effort by theologically and politically conservative Catholics and Protestants to ally Christianity with reactionary politics.

The fear and hatred that divided the Evangelical right from the Catholic right was, it turned out, among the bulwarks of American liberty. The identification of the anti-abortion cause with Catholicism greatly slowed its adoption by right-wing Protestants, especially in the South. But after Pope John made the Catholic bogey-man less scary, it became easier for Jerry Falwell to play on the same political team with Cardinal Law, once John Paul II had moved the Church back to he right politically while more or less maintaining its outreach to Protestants.
By the same token, but on a different path, your blogstress sees in the Vatican's latest decrees and Bush administration's (and, apparently the American people's) sanction of torture, a return to the dark ages. The argument is made in her regular column at The American Prospect Online.

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Why Edwards isn't cutting it

At The American Prospect Online my colleague Garance Franke-Ruta has quite the brilliant piece about why the John Edwards presidential campaign can't seem to get much traction among low-income groups, despite the candidate's anti-poverty platform.

According to Garance, people who earn low wages are savvy enough to know that the real path out of poverty will open only when more people who look like them assume positions of power. Hence the outsized appeal, among these voters, of Hillary Clinton (women are overrepresented in the low-wage cohort) and Barack Obama (poverty having endured as a problem for African Americans).

Here's a taste from GFR of how it got that way:

As the nobility and controversy of the civil rights era gave way to the controversy without nobility of the identity politics era, politicians learned to shy away from genuine challenges to the social order while simultaneously seeking to claim the moral mantle of historical daring. Today's goal, as Edwards' tour shows, is to be noble without being in the least controversial.


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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Al Gore Hearts Jersey

The former veep gives the birthplace of the blogstress its due. Click here for the video.

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Your blogstress on CNN

Yes, Toto; we're really not in Kansas anymore -- thank Goddess! From the wildly successful Take Back America conference, which took place late last month, here in Your Nation's Capital...

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Blogstress on Libby at The Prospect

Ooh, forgot to letchas know, mes amis, that your cybertrix has a new piece up at The American Prospect just in time for your holiday reading -- and it just happens to be about excessive sentences, and all that.

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Excessive sentences

Our dear leader, loath to impose excessive sentences on anyone, as demonstrated in his commutation of the sentence of I. Lewis Libby, apparently has no such concern for the innocent Pashtun goatherd caught up in the War on Terror net that dropped him in Guantanamo, where he awaits notification of the charge on which he has been imprisoned, lo, these past five years.

Or, as Phillip Carter recently reminded your blogstress, death was rarely deemed too excessive a sentence for those condemned during George Bush's capital campaign as the chief executive of the great State of Texas. Here's Carter in 2004 in Slate:

The state of Texas executed 150 men and two women during Bush's six-year tenure as governor--a rate unmatched by any other state in modern U.S. history. As governor, Bush had statutory power to delay executions and the political power to influence the state Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute them entirely, where there was a procedural error, cause for mercy, or a bona fide claim of innocence. Then-Gov. Bush assigned [Alberto] Gonzales [then the governor's general counsel; now U.S. attorney general] a critical role in the clemency process--asking him to provide a legal memo on the morning of each execution day outlining the key facts and issues of the case at hand. According to Alan Berlow, who obtained Gonzales' memoranda after a protracted legal fight with the state of Texas and wrote about them in the July/August 2003 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Gonzales' legal skills fell far short of the mark that one might expect for this serious task:
A close examination of the Gonzales memoranda suggests that Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute. In fact, in these documents Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence.
On the basis of these memos, Gov. Bush allowed every single execution--save one--to go forward in his state. It's not clear whether Bush directed Gonzales to provide such superficial and conclusory legal research, or whether Gonzales did so of his own accord. Regardless, the point remains that the White House's new nominee to head the Justice Department turned in work that would have barely earned a passing grade in law school, let alone satisfy the requirements of a job in which life and death were at stake. Perhaps more important, these early memos from Texas revealed Gonzales' startling willingness to sacrifice rigorous legal analysis to achieve pre-ordained policy results at the drop of a Stetson.

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