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24 posts categorized "President"

March 06, 2007

Virtual blackface is non-partisan

Aeroman reports that the virtual vandals who defaced John Edwards' Second Life HQ with blackface and feces are claiming to be non-partisan race-baiting gay bashers.

The attackers have been identified — and they’re alive and gloating.

“Guess what: we’re not Republicans. In fact, I’m one of the most hard-core liberals I know.”

A post on the John Edwards blog claimed credit for an attack on his campaign HQ in Second Life — saying that “We simply did it for the lulz… The fact you were so bent out of shape to make a blog post on the OFFICIAL JOHN EDWARDS BLOG about how some people placed a bunch of shittingdicknipples on your lawn is mighty telling.”

The post was deleted from Edwards blog. (Its last line was “Enjoy your AIDS!”) But the poster used the name Mudkips Acronym, which also turns up in a January entry on Encyclopedia Dramatica, identifying him as a member of a longstanding Second Life “invasion group.” Its name is given as “Patriotic Nigras: e-terrorists at large,” and Saturday the entry was updated to claim credit for the Edwards attack.

This would make the Edwards attack just the latest installment in a longer history of random assaults. The page describes the group’s first attacks as griefing pranks on Second Life’s “Gay Yiffy” virtual nightclub — blocking the exit doors on a disco’s private rooms, and filling its dance floor with an annoyingly large box. They returned to build a wall with a swastika of American flags, and eventually acquired a “Doomsday” weapon that creates endlessly replicating cubes.

How non-partisan. Nobody could possibly detect a political agenda. Just good clean "equal opportunity" vandalism dripping with racist and homophobic overtones.

March 05, 2007

David Kuo interviews John Edwards about his religion

David Kuo has a very interesting interview with John Edwards about Edwards' religion at

Edwards isn't afraid to stress the Christian moral imperative of providing for the poor. Good for him.

Still, I wish that Democrats like Edwards who are devout Christians would go occasionally on the offensive against right wing hypocrites who claim to be Christian while abandoning the poor.

It's important to say that you believe that serving the poor is a core moral precept of Christianity. I want to hear devout Democrats take it to the next level and accuse self-professed Republicans of being apostates and hypocrites when they ignore poverty or otherwise flout uncontroversial Christian moral precepts.

Why are liberal Christian politicians always on the defensive? At the grassroots level, there's are plenty of liberal Christians assailing phony Republican piety. Yet this sentiment never seems to percolate up to the level of the candidate.

As an atheist Democrat, I sometimes feel like an apoplectic soccer coach shouting from the sidelines at the Christian Democrats on the field who refuse to play offense.

The media and the Republicans like to blame atheists and agnostics for driving religious people away from the Democrats. The really irritating thing is that a lot of Democrats buy into the same nonsense. When we atheists attack right wing Christian hypocrites, we're labeled as being anti-religion. Sometimes we even get flack from Christians on our side, as if being anti-right wing hypocrite were equivalent to anti-Christian.

Frankly, liberal Christians in politics are way too nice to their conservative counterparts. Our guys have been taught that it's presumptuous to pronounce about who's a real Christian and who isn't. Actually, all Christians are taught that--but in American politics, only the liberal Christians seem to listen.

As a result of this reticence, even devoutly religious Democrats come across as weak and defensive when it comes to their personal faith. That's just how you're perceived if you always defend and never attack. Democrats are  constantly being second-guessed about their faith. Fair or not, you look weak if you let insinuations go chronically unanswered.

Democratic politicians who talk about their faith are constantly being slurred as panderers. How can they overcome this perception. Well, they can start standing up for themselves and their beliefs by hitting back when challenged. If you claim that being a Christian requires X, it's not enough to affirm X yourself. You've got to be willing to call out people who claim to be Christian while flouting X. If you never make that leap, people will wonder if you're sincere.

The Republican party is a a mix of believers and non-believers, just like the Democratic party. Yet, somehow the Democrats got saddled with the myth of a "God gap."

The reason that Democratic candidates are constantly vulnerable to attacks on their personal faith is that they never directly attack Republican religious pretenses. They tacitly accept the premise that their theocratic opponents are sincere Christians, even when these outwardly pious opponents do blatantly un-Christian things like abandoning the poor.

Democratic leaders who are Christians must stand up and call out their religio-political opponents, especially when those opponents have the nerve to imply that they aren't real Christians because they're Democrats.

We atheists can't fight their battles for them.

March 03, 2007

Ann Coulter needs rehab

Performance artist Ann Coulter spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC):

“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot–so…."

Crooks and Liars has the video.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduced Coulter. Her fag joke drew a warm reception from the crowd of conservative activists.

Coulter is in urgent need of rehab. If she doesn't get help soon, she'll shave her head and attack the press with umbrellas.

February 18, 2007

Who needs faith?

Nathan Newman writes:

There's a bit of a furor that Mitt Romney declared:

We need to have a person of fiath lead the country.

So what? I disagree with the statement, but it's no different in kind from someone saying they support Obama because they think we need a person of color as President, or saying they support Clinton because it's high time a woman was President. There's no violation of the Constitution for VOTERS to vote their religious beliefs, just as ethnic and racial solidarity has been common in elections without violating the 14th Amendment.

And at some level, why shouldn't a person's religious beliefs be relevant?

Mitt Romney is implying that you can't be a good president unless you're a religious believer.  He's deluded, of course. On the other hand, I'm not surprised or offended by his blithe dismissal of atheists higher office.

Mitt's entitled to support whoever he wants for president--including his own personal, faithful self. He's entitled to run on whatever platform he wants, including the false claim that only the faithful can be good presidents.

It's just kind of a stupid for Mitt the Mormon to start a person-of-faith pissing match. The thing is, most American voters agree that only God-loving folk can be good presidents. Unfortunately for Mitt, a significant percentage of those religious believers regard Mitt's God as fictional and his faith as heresy. Every single person he's running against has a more mainstream faith than he does. So, I'd advise him to tread carefully.

All previous American presidents have at least publicly professed a belief in God. Some of them were good. There doesn't seem to be any correlation between which God they believed in and how good they were at being president.

What really matters is a president's policy positions, not his or her religious identity. An atheist president with Mitt's agenda would still be a bad president.

February 13, 2007

W. to Bush Sr.--"I'm doing fine, dad!"

Bush Sr. can't even bring himself to watch the surge debate:

As the House gets ready to begin debating the Iraq war today, President Bush has a piece of advice for his father: Turn off the television.

It seems that former president George H.W. Bush has been getting agitated watching all the attacks on his son -- so much so that the current president said yesterday that he is worried for his father's well-being.

"I am actually more concerned about him than I have ever been in my life, because he's paying too much attention to the news," the president told C-SPAN in an interview to be broadcast this morning. "And I understand how difficult it is for a person who loves somebody to see them out in the political process and to kind of endure the criticism. My answer to him is: 'Look, don't pay attention to it. I'm doing fine.' "

That is advice he apparently intends to follow himself. Bush has no plans to watch the House debate his decision to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq.

"You know, I've got a full day," he said. "I mean, it's not as if the world stops when the Congress does their duty."

Besides, he added: "I already know what the debate is. I hear a lot of opinions." [WaPo]

Somehow, I don't think Bush 41 is just agitated because so many people are attacking Bush 43. He's agitated because he knows the attacks are well-placed and there's nothing he can do about it.

February 08, 2007

Bush wants to boost funding for useless anti-drug ads

The Politico notes that George W. Bush is calling to increase funding for an anti-drug ad program that has been shown to be worthless:

The administration has asked for a 31 percent increase in funding for the advertising campaign that a nearly five-year study concluded had increased the likelihood that all teens would smoke marijuana. The White House proposal would increase the program's budget to $130 million over the next year.

Last August, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office urged Congress to end the White House's National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign:

The report by the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, confirmed the results of a $43 million, government-funded study that found the campaign did not work. That evaluation, by Westat Inc. and the University of Pennsylvania, said parents and youths remembered the ads and their messages. But the study said exposure to the ads did not change kids' attitudes about drugs and that the reduction in drug use in recent years could be attributed more directly to a range of other factors, such as a decline in high school dropouts. [USA Today]

Dr. Carson Wagner, who studies advertising at the University of Texas at Austin notes that the government spends $195 million annually to purchase airtime from these ads, which may actually pique kids' interest in drugs.

January 31, 2007

Bush nearly flattens press corps with erratic bull-dozer driving

Newsweek blogger Holly Bailey reports on a bizarre and troubling incident involving the president of the United States, the media, and heavy machinery:

Does President Bush have it in for the press corps? Touring a Caterpillar factory in Peoria, Ill., the Commander in Chief got behind the wheel of a giant tractor and played chicken with a few wayward reporters. Wearing a pair of stylish safety glasses--at least more stylish than most safety glasses--Bush got a mini-tour of the factory before delivering remarks on the economy. "I would suggest moving back," Bush said as he climbed into the cab of a massive D-10 tractor. "I'm about to crank this sucker up." As the engine roared to life, White House staffers tried to steer the press corps to safety, but when the tractor lurched forward, they too were forced to scramble for safety."Get out of the way!" a news photographer yelled. "I think he might run us over!" said another. White House aides tried to herd the reporters the right way without getting run over themselves. Even the Secret Service got involved, as one agent began yelling at reporters to get clear of the tractor. Watching the chaos below, Bush looked out the tractor's window and laughed, steering the massive machine into the spot where most of the press corps had been positioned.

I presume that Bailey was at the plant and saw the incident first-hand. She doesn't cite any other sources. The AP confirms that Bush told people to back up because he was about to "crank this sucker up." So far, I can't find a major media report of Bush's visit to the tractor plant that mentions the chaos the president's joyride caused on the ground. If reporters scurried away from Bush's tractor and didn't report the incident, they would be taking self-censorship to a whole new level.

Update: I found another news account that appears to corroborate Bailey's story. According to this piece by Molly Parker of the Peoria Star Journal, Bush's jaunt on the bulldozer was arranged by Karl Rove at the last minute and his driving did scatter reporters:

Before the tour, Rove chatted briefly with Caterpillar executives about whether Bush would drive one of the tractors. Rove reminded them Bush doesn't do much driving on his own these days and asked if Caterpillar's insurance was up to date.

"We figure he'll have a tendency to go to the right," quipped Tim Elder, director of corporate public affairs.

At the end, Bush, dressed in a bright blue shirt and without a tie, did indeed climb inside a "Black Iron Machine" bulldozer.

"I would suggest you move back. I'm about to crank this thing up," he told the gaggle of reporters following him. He moved it to the left and then the right, reporters scattering as he wheeled in their direction.

"I thought you were joking," one reporter yelled to the president. He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

Shakespeare's Sister has photos of Bush's visit to the Peoria plant.

[HT: Michael Hussey]

x-posted at This Modern World.

January 18, 2007

Bush retreats on executive power

The Washington Post has a good article on the Bush's capitulations to the rule of law and those pesky co-equal branches of government, Bush Retreats on Use of Executive Power: Allowing Court's Role in Surveillance Is Latest Step Back.

Bush's latest abrupt reversal is to abandon his NSA domestic spying program and let the FISA courts oversee the surveillance of terrorists.

Of course, he's probably not planning to bring back the old one warrant/one suspect rule:

Officials would not say, for example, whether the administration will be required to seek a warrant for each person it wants to monitor or whether the FISA court has issued a broader set of orders to cover multiple cases. Authorities also would not say how many court orders are involved or which judge on the surveillance court had issued them.

One official familiar with the discussions characterized the change as "programmatic," rather than based on warrants targeting specific cases. [WaPo]

Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.), a member of the House intelligence panel, also referred to the new approach as "programmatic approval" and said it "does not have the protections for civil liberties" in FISA or in a bill she introduced last year. [WaPo]

I have no idea what "programmatic" means in this context. Is the idea that would-be wiretappers would ask for FISA authority to spy on large ill-defined classes of people, like, say, "al Qaeda and suspected al Qeada"?

The significance of the change seems to depend on the scope of a "program." If you give the FISA court so much leeway that it can authorize wiretaps on huge groups of or classes of people, without having to justify the surveillance of any individual in particular, you've just got a court-supervised violation of civil rights instead of a presidential fiat.

January 13, 2007

Get out of Iraq now, before we start a bigger war

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice now admits that Bush authorized the attack on the Iranian diplomatic facility in Iraq as part of a long-running campaign against Iranian agents who are aiding the Shiite insurgency in Iraq.

Iran is probably aiding Shiite militias in Iraq. That's one reason why we need to negotiate with Iran to partition Iraq and get the hell out. The plurality of Iraq's population is Shiite and sympathetic to Iran. Even if Iraq became a democracy, it would vote to be a Shia state with close ties to Iran. In the 2005 elections, over 80% of Shiite voters cast their ballots for pro-Iranian Shiite parties.

The excruciating irony is that the Bush administration created the problem in the first place. If the U.S. hadn't overthrown Saddam Hussein, Iraq and Iran would have remained bitter enemies. This entire war was one big gimme for Islamic theocracy.

In The End Of Iraq, Peter Galbraith notes that George W. Bush's bungling foreign policy literally created the Tehran/Baghdad Axis.

When George W. Bush shot off his mouth about the "Axis of Evil" (a phrase that went straight to the keyboard of David Frum to the lips of the president without any fact-checking by the State Department), the so-called "axis" did not exist. Iraq and Iran were bitter enemies at the time. Saddam Hussein and his Sunni minority ruled Iraq. Iran was Shiite Islamic Republic. Hussein started the Iran/Iraq war that killed at least half a million Iranians and left thousands in Iraqi POW camps decades later.

However, once the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq's Shiite majority suddenly had a lot of power, by dint of sheer numbers. Of course, Iran founded and nurtured Iraq's major Shiite parties for years before the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein.

The United States had a surprisingly good relationship with Iran before the disastrous Axis of Evil speech. Galbraith explains, "Before the Axis of Evil speech Iran was cooperating with the United States in Afghanistan, sharing intelligence about al Qaeda, preventing fugitive al Qaeda members from escaping through Iran, and giving the U.S. military permission to conduct search-and-rescue missions in Iranian territory for any American pilot shot down in the Afghanistan war."

At first, the U.S. and Iran had a lot of common interests with regard to Iraq. Both sides wanted to contain Hussein's aggressions. Several years earlier, Iran had been attacked by Hussein and subjected to his poison gas attacks. Of course, Iran has good reason to fear al Qaeda, a Sunni group sworn to erase Iran's Islamic revolution and recreate a Sunni caliphate. All that changed after Bush signaled to the Iranians that they might be the next target.

Bush's loose talk spurred the Iranians to pursue their nuclear program. Once the U.S. became tied down in Iraq, Iran was able to step up its program without fear of reprisals.

If Iran is determined to help Iraq's Shiites, now is the time to cut a deal and get out. It would be absolutely ridiculous, not to mention barbarous, to start a war with Iran over the ruins of Iraq. The longer we drag this out, the further the Iranians may progress in the nuclear program. Remember, military experts are saying that the war could drag on for years. We don't want to end up in a nuclear face-off with Iran over a country we've already lost.

Remember, if we really wanted democracy in Iraq, we should have expected a Shia-dominated theocratic government closely allied with Iran, because that's what people are going to vote for in the foreseeable future. So, you have to ask, what's the point of fighting Iran to forestall the inevitable?

The only moral imperative keeping the U.S. in Iraq is to stop the impeding genocide of the Sunnis at the hands if the Shias. The conflict has already shifted from a war against American occupation to a civil war between Sunni and Shia.

The only way out is to acknowledge Kurdish independence, create some kind of Sunni state that can be defended from the predations of its neighbors, and let the Shia of Iraq form their own republic. The longer we wait, the worse our chances of brokering a good deal.

January 12, 2007

White House banned still photography for Bush speech

Traditionally, White House has allows photojournalists to take pictures of the president at the podium after major speeches, such as Wednesday night's nationally televised war beg.

This time, the White House banned still photographs at the podium and handed out canned shots instead. Most news organizations opted to use the video stills from the speech.

But not the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They gave their doggie bag a byline:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran the handout photo as its lead art and crediting it to "ERIC DRAPER/McClatchy Tribune," citing a news service that transmitted the photograph. The Journal-Constitution's front page ran no disclosure that Draper is employed by the White House. [E&P]

Why ban still photographers after a nationally televised speech? Bush must be really strung out.