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Archive for March, 2007

GOP Deja Vu

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The US Attorney scandal unfolding right now is a typical product of Republican presidencies.

In the last 47 years, there have been 4 Republicans elected President: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bush I and Bush II. Nixon had his Watergate, just as Reagan had his Iran Contra. GHW Bush did not see a similar scandal erupt during his one term, but he completed the Iran Contra cover-up by pardoning Casper Weinberger.

Now we have what seems like a new constitution bending scandal every week or 10 days. That we know about. Who knows what sub rosa mischief Elliot Abrams and others are up to.

I cannot possibly be the first to suggest that there is a pattern here that seems to suggest that the Republican Party, or at least the Republican establishment, has a different understanding of the rule of law than the rest of us. It is as if their philosophy holds that the rules are not binding on them as long as they seize and consolidate power and use it to the benefit of their corporate friends and betters.

Having reached this conclusion I wonder why the voters of America keep buying this same parcel of swampland. Swampland. Time magazine. Main Stream Media. Manufacturing Consent.

Oh yeah.

Written by slothropia

March 23rd, 2007 at 10:42 pm

Posted in Republican Party

Politics and Religion: Final Thoughts (for now)

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As alluded to in recent posts on this topic, religion remains a potent force in U.S. politics. In the middle east also. But in Europe, Canada and much of Asia, not so much.

Even in this country, voters who are religious (as opposed to religious voters) are growing less monolithic in their voting patterns, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:

The GOP held on to voters who attend religious services more than once a week, 60% of whom voted Republican compared with 61% in 2002. A majority (53%) of those who attend church at least once a week also supported Republicans. But less frequent churchgoers were much more supportive of Democrats than they were four years ago. Among those who attend church a few times a year, for instance, 60% voted Democratic, compared with 50% in 2002. And among those who never go to church, 67% voted Democratic; four years ago, only 55% did so. As a result, the gap in Democratic support between those who attend church more than once a week and those who never attend church has grown from 18 percentage points in 2002 to 29 points today.

(snip)

The GOP held on to voters who attend religious services more than once a week, 60% of whom voted Republican compared with 61% in 2002. A majority (53%) of those who attend church at least once a week also supported Republicans. But less frequent churchgoers were much more supportive of Democrats than they were four years ago. Among those who attend church a few times a year, for instance, 60% voted Democratic, compared with 50% in 2002. And among those who never go to church, 67% voted Democratic; four years ago, only 55% did so. As a result, the gap in Democratic support between those who attend church more than once a week and those who never attend church has grown from 18 percentage points in 2002 to 29 points today.


Congressional Vote (House) by Worship Attendance, 2002-2006
(Share of 2006 Electorate in Parentheses)
Figure
Sources: 2006, 2004 and 2002 exit polls

The American right is more and more dependent on Christian voters who are more religious (as measured by frequency of church attendance ) than their neighbours – their wicked, wicked neighbours – who only attend worship services a couple of time a monthor maybe even less. Of course the godless sodomites (per Colbert) are all Democrats. The Greens probably have more than their share of Wiccans but I’ve seen no research.
The demographic problem in for the right includes the fact that immigrants who bring their religion with them to the U.S. are not likely to vote Republican. Meanwhile the growing ranks of the non worshipers grows larger and more Democratic every cycle.

The bottom line is that religion as an institution has lost much of the political influence it once had in Western civilization. I blame the following events, individuals and groups:

  • Copernicus
  • Galileo
  • The Enlightenment and French Revolution
  • The U.S. Founding Fathers
  • Darwin
  • Einstein
  • Marx
  • Adam Smith
  • European colonial empires
  • Scientists
  • Philosophers
  • Artists
  • The Pill
  • And of course, comic books, rap music and Hollywood

Poor old religion. Whipped and hobbled by science and devoured by its own success. I seem to recall many occasions on which Christianity’s apologists have argued that their religion has been the basis of the triumph of Western Civilization. Now, the West leads the world in prosperity, and it is prosperity that has given us the means and leisure both to seek unprecedented degrees of pleasure and ask fundamental questions. Neither of these pursuits are encouraged by organized religion, but for hundreds of years, religion’s hold has been weakening on the minds and morals of humans.

My formal break with religion came in adolescence. Under various intellectual influences, i declared my atheism and refused to accompany my family to church. My understanding of religion I hope has grown more sophisticated in the thousands of days since that time. I sympathize now with many believers, those who inherited the social gospel for example, and those like MLK whose struggle for equality was driven by their faith.

But no matter how much good one sees in the moral teachings – the outcomes – of Christianity and other religions, I am always troubled by the authority that blesses those teachings. God may speak to prophets and saints, but if he does, he sometimes tells them very silly things.

I understand there is a conservative response to Wikipedia where truth seekers can learn how modern day kangaroos are descended from passengers on Noah’s ark. I leave it to science to test that assertion and wait in suspense for the result.

Many Christians, of course, have accepted the validity of the scientific method as a way to search for knowledge. But to do so is to reject a still significant part of all the organized religions I can think of. Name a religion that does not teach something that can easily be demonstrated as not only not true, but impossible. The Bible and Koran are chock full of occasions upon which the laws of nature
are ignored or suspended.

And if religion is wrong about physics and astronomy, why should we think it speaks the truth about psychology
or ethics or politics?

Which is why the fundamentalists on every continent are still dangerous. They are desperate and afraid.

Written by slothropia

March 22nd, 2007 at 8:20 pm

Trouble With a Capital G

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Man! Talk about your judicial activism:

A federal appeals court in Washington today struck down on Second Amendment grounds a gun control law in the District of Columbia that bars residents from keeping handguns in their homes.

The court relied on a constitutional interpretation that has been rejected by nine federal appeals courts around the nation. The decision was the first from a federal appeals court to hold a gun-control law unconstitutional on the ground that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals, as opposed to a collective right of state militias.

Linda Singer, the district’s acting attorney general, said the decision was “a huge setback.”

“We’ve been making progress on bringing down crime and gun violence, and this sends us in a different direction,” Ms. Singer said.

The principles violated by these right wing judges would be the same no matter what jurisdiction is affected, but D.C. has its share of crime, and this will make it worse. It won’t take long either before gun crime is mysteriously up – way up – in Washington.

But that’s the way of the right in America, these days. Conduct radical experiments in social engineering, make a mess, destroy lives, leave a mess for someone else (Democrats by default) to clean up. That’s the way Bush Republicans govern.

I don’t know who appointed these judges, but something tells me it wasn’t Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton.

Written by slothropia

March 9th, 2007 at 9:23 pm

Why I THink the GOP is in Really Big Trouble

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On would think that having received a “thumpin'” (as expressed so felicitously by the Decider) in the last election that Republicans would be addressing some of the causes of their electoral misfortune. Happily, one would be wrong.

I offer as evidence two recent developments:

  1. The interference with ongoing criminal investigations by Rep. Heather Wilson (R, N.M.) and Sen. Pete Domenici (R, also N.M.). along with the unprecedented sacking of a number of U.S. Attorneys across the U.S
  2. The most recent verbal stink bomb from Ann something or other

In the first example, we see members of Congress and the entire Executive Branch acting incompetently, mendaciously or both. Whatever the cause, the Bush/Cheney administration is paying and will continue to pay a considerable political price.

Republicans and Conservatives are also paying a price for the  poorly worded assessment of John Edwards offered last week by Ann Coulter. She will kill again. She can’t seem to help herself. And the GOP and the conservative moment will continue to act as enablers.

One small sliver of competence has been displayed by the Administration. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates acted quickly to find someone to fire at Walter Reed Hospital. But even there the Repubs will suffer the consequences of years of bad decisions.

Written by slothropia

March 5th, 2007 at 11:51 pm