Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Joyous Curse of Cell Phones

I've always resisted cell phones. First of all, I don't like paying for another phone. But I also realize that I don't want my absent-minded self being responsible for not losing another valuable item. I don't like the tinny, vaguely underwater sound of people's voices over cell phones either.

Most of all, I don't like the idea of being in that much touch with people. A lot of people with cell phones are on the phone every spare second. Given that I like a fair amount of solitude myself, I hate the idea of being on the phone that much.

Unfortunately, Mrs. RSI now has a work cell phone and she and my daughter have already called me four times since she left on a one hour drive to Lexington, KY. The first call was to let me know that she was leaving town even though I had seen her car going out to the highway and waved. Then, there was a second call that was so forgettable that I forgot what it was about. I think they're just trying to annoy me.

Fortunately, Mrs. RSI didn't forget to call me a third time when she left the shopping plaza parking lot to let me know that she would be home at 6:30. I have to admit that this information was vital because I might have had a heart attack if she had returned unannounced before 8:00. Because Mrs. RSI has been on time approximately twice in our sixteen plus years together, informing me of an on-time arrival is a health necessity.

Finally, and inevitably, there was a fourth call to inform me that she and daughter would be late after all. I was worried about a heart attack for nothing.

Mrs. RSI used to be able to travel short distances without staying in phone contact throughout the day and I normally would be sort of aggravated to get a wave of phone calls over nothing.

But Mrs. RSI suffers from terminal cuteness even when she's being a typical cell phone junkie.

So, I think I'll enjoy the curse of cell phones after all.

Oops. The phone's ringing again! Gotta go!

Amanda Marcotte has a Friend in Jesus

Earlier this week, Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog resigned her position in John Edwards' presidential campaign as a result of the controversy over her feminist criticism of Christianity. Marcotte certainly was critical. A couple of days after Edwards' initial decision not to fire her for anti-Catholic comments, Marcotte wrote in her blog that "the Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where god is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels."

There's no doubt that the language of Luke is pretty patriarchal even if it doesn't conceive of Mary or other women "as nothing but vessels."

"And now you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus . . . The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God."(New Oxford Annotated Bible, Luke 1: 31-35)

But Marcotte misses out on a big part of the Jesus story. Patriarchy gave birth to Jesus (doesn't it give birth to us all), but Jesus was also an uncompromising, relentless, and violent enemy of patriarchy among men. Even a bigger enemy of patriarchy than Amanda Marcotte.

And that's why the men of ancient Judea killed Jesus!

In fact, one of the keys to understanding the doctrine of Jesus is that he valued the most despised women more than any kind of patriarch.

This can be seen in Luke's account of Jesus' visit to the house of a Pharisee named Simon. As Jesus sat down to his meal, a woman “which was a sinner” came into the house with a box of expensive alabaster ointment, stood behind Jesus weeping, “and began to wash his feet with tears.” Then, the woman wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair before kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Simon responded to this extraordinary scene by wondering why Jesus would let such a woman touch him. But Jesus would have none of this and he quickly let Simon know that he had more respect for the sinful woman than Simon himself.

"Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but he hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment."[i]

For Jesus, there was much more value in the woman's (sexual) sinning than Simon's piety. Because of the weight of her many sins, the woman had a corresponding need for forgiveness. Consequently, she “loved much” and showed that love through her service of washing Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping his feet with her hair, and then kissing and anointing his feet. For Jesus, this is how love showed itself most forcefully--in a willingness to subordinate oneself to God and others. The woman's overpowering need for forgiveness recalls the first of the blessings in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew: “blessed are the poor in spirit.” Her “tainted” reputation as a sinner corresponds with the crucial dictum that the “last shall come first and the first shall come last.” Finally, washing another's feet was the model that Jesus adapted when showing his love for humanity in John’s account of the Last Supper. Of all the figures, Jesus encountered in his ministry, this sinning woman was the one that Jesus embodied most in his own conduct.[ii]

To the contrary, there was much in Simon’s conduct that was repugnant to Jesus and his doctrine. Not feeling the weight of sins like adultery and not being burdened by a need for forgiveness, Simon had little love for Jesus. “To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Instead, Simon was focused on the issue of reputation. Because the woman had a reputation as a sinner and therefore would have been seen as “unclean,” Simon seemed to believe that she should not have been allowed into the presence of a holy man like Jesus. From the perspective of Jesus, however, this concern for reputation revealed Simon as engaging in public display rather than a manifestation of sincere piety in his observation of the Law. The same was the case for the Pharisees in general. “But all their works they do for to be seen by men; they . . . love the uppermost rooms at feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues and greetings in the markets, and to be called Rabbi, Rabbi.” For Jesus, this kind of social prestige was damnable. "Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets." (Luke 6:26)

The Pharisees were widely respected as interpreters of the Torah and pious men among the Jewish people. But Jeus damned this respectability. Referring to the Pharisees in Luke, Jesus stated that “ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Thus, the role of the Pharisees as the authoritative interpreters of the Law among the Jewish people, their efforts to enforce religious prescriptions on the population as a whole, their influence on the management of Temple ritual, and other indications of their respectability made them “unclean” (or abominable) in a way that was worse than the sinful woman who Simon wanted removed from his house. The woman’s sins could be redeemed but Simon’s sense of self-satisfied authority made him impervious to the kind of faith that Jesus demanded and was thus beyond redemption. In fact, everything Simon and other Pharisees did to build their reputations was tainted with a sinfulness that was greater any transgressions against the Mosaic law. Seeking to justify themselves “before men,” their education in the Law, following of ritual prescriptions, carrying the Torah, and wearing of special robes all served to take them farther from any kind of sanctity or spiritual cleanliness. From the point of view of Jesus, Simon was a monster of presumption, an “abomination in the sight of God.” It was because of this presumption that Simon the Pharisee could not love Jesus in the manner of the woman with the alabaster ointment. As a result, Jesus did not forgive his lack of love like he forgave the woman. [iii]

Jesus did not forgive patriarchy.

That's why Amanda Marcotte has a friend in Jesus.

[i]Luke 7: 44-46, The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with Psalms and Proverbs, Commonly known as the Authorized (King James Version), National Publishing, 1968. All subsequent New Testament citations from same edition.
[ii]Matthew 5:3; Matthew 23: 11-12; John 13: 4-5.
[iii]Matthew 23: 5-7; Luke 6: 25; Luke 7:47. In Luke 18, Jesus makes a similar comparison between a Pharisee and a tax collector. For popularity of Pharisees, see Timothy A. Friedrichsen, The Temple, a Pharisee, a Tax Collector, and the Kingdom of God,” Journal of Biblical Literature, Spring2005, Vol. 124, Issue 1, 109-110.
[iv]For efforts by the Pharisees to extent dietary prescriptions, see

Maybe George Needs a Cup of Coffee

Perhaps George Bush could learn something from the irresponsibility of Claude Van Tassel formerly of Maine, now Pennsylvania. According to Fox, Van Tassel told his wife that "he was going for coffee" while shopping with his wife in Maine, then abandoned her, and turned up five months later in Pennsylvania. Needless to say, I do not recommend abandoning a wife of 38 years by any means, especially for someone with 12 children like Mr. Van Tassel.

However, I wouldn't mind if President Bush just "stepped out" for a cup of coffee one of these days. He could take Dick Cheney with him.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Only in Kentucky

There's a chance that the ski trip of my 12 year old daughter's church youth group is going to be cancelled because of a snow storm. Kentucky may be the only state in the nation where 1-2 inches of snow can cancel a ski trip.

Not that Katy will mind.

She's grounded anyway.

The Worst People in the World?

Today, Keith Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" award went to Robert Lamb of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Opposing legislation to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birthday in Virginia, Lamb said that "Lincoln sent armies into Virginia to lay waste to the state, that the state should instead celebrate the birthday of Jefferson Davis" instead.

People like Lamb never get it. Jefferson Davis and everyone who participated in the Confederacy were traitors. What's worse, the Confederates launched their rebellion to promote a vicious system of slavery and slavery was particularly disgusting in Virginia which served as a "breeding" state that shipped surplus slaves further south. Finally, the Confederates were holding the South back. Even by the time of the Civil War, the American South was a economic, educational, and cultural backwater that had fallen far behind. Because of the continuing commitment to white supremacy after the Civil War, the South remained a backwater until the success of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950's and 1960's.

By transforming the Civil War into a war of emancipation, Abraham Lincoln wrote a promissory note for liberating the whole South from the burden of slavery, a note that Martin Luther King, SNCC, and the Freedom Riders cashed in the sixties. People like Lamb who continue to fight for "the lost cause" of the Confederacy, slavery, and white supremacy really are among the worst people in the world because they continue to fight in the name of a disgraceful past.

Politics for Ugly People?

This morning, I went to a faculty forum for a candidate for the provost position at my state university in Kentucky. For readers unfamiliar with universities, the provost is the no. 2 position behind the university president. In general, the provost of a state university is more concerned with the nuts and bolts of administration while presidents deal more with state agencies, fund-raising, and public ceremony.

Like a university president, the provost's job is fundamentally political. Jay Leno exaggerated when he said that politics was show business for ugly people. Politicians like Mitt Romney and Kay Bailey Hutchinson may not be actor good-looking, but they are very pretty people in the vapid, blow-dried, way that Americans demand. That's not the case with academic administrators who tend to be pretty average if not a little pallid looking from spending so much time indoors. Academic administration is politics for people who aren't pretty enough to be politicians.

Today's finalist was Dr. Karla Hughes, the Dean of Human Ecology at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. The way that academics at low level universities like Morehead State call everybody "Dr." is extremely annoying and ridiculous. I always feel like I should say "defibrillator, stat" whenever anyone calls me Dr. Caric. But Karla Hughes was not annoying at all. In fact, her responses showed a lot of press secretary (Ari Fleischer comes to mind) skills in demonstrating that she knew several sides of every question without committing herself to any particular answers in advance. University people had reason to be impressed. Hughes projected a sense of being flexible in supporting projects that looked promising without carrying a huge agenda of her own. It's nothing too exciting, but that's a good approach given that Morehead State is relatively small, underfinanced state university serving the impoverished area of Eastern Kentucky. Reasonable administrators will support projects from the most talented people they have on board.

Suicide Pills for Republicans

Destroying Conservative Government. President Bush is quoted in today's Lexington Herald-Leader as saying that the House anti-surge resolution "won't change his plans no matter how many Republicans support it." In 2008 terms, Bush's refusal to acknowledge his own unpopularity means that "he won't change his plans" no matter how many seats Republicans lose in the next election. It may be that George Bush's biggest accomplishment as president might be setting back the Republican Party and the conservative movement for a generation. For that, he would have my undying gratitude, but I'm surprised that I haven't seen any Republicans calling for his impeachment.

The Newt Threat: RSI's Feb. 14 post on Newt Gingrich's brightening prospects for the GOP nomination scooped Dick Morris of Fox and the New York Post by a day. Morris quotes a Jan. 31 Fox Poll that has Newt at 16% nationwide with Mitt Romney at 3%. I neglected to mention that nominating Newt Gingrich would be the equivalent of taking a suicide pill. Gingrich might be the single most unpopular politician in American not named Bush or Cheney. The last time I checked his negatives, Newt was disliked by a landslide of 58% of the voters. If nominated by the presidency, Newt Gingrich would be a sure loser and his massive ego, grandiloquent gestures, and whiny immaturity would drag a lot of other GOP candidates down with him.

Flat Earth Follow-Up. Today's Talking Points Memo notes that a Georgia state senator named Ben Bridges has been circulating a letter claiming that evolutionary theory derives concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic ‘holy book’ Kabbala dating back at least two millennia.” Fortunately for the world of political humor, that's not all. Barnes' memo points to a web site called which also denies that the earth revolves around the sun or that the earth rotates. Unfortunately for the right wing, the principled ignorance of the flat-earth crowd is even less popular than the endless failures of the Bush administration.

Conservatives used to talk about a "new dawn" in American history. As the right-wing lines up to take their suicide pills, it looks like we might be getting that new dawn indeed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Frank Gaffney and the New Confederacy

Yesterday, Frank Gaffney, a well-known neo-conservative writer, published an op-ed in the Washington Times that called "surge" opponents as "saboteurs" and claimed that Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan should be hanged. Referring to Levin, Gaffney states that:

If there's one thing that really should be a hanging offense, it is behavior that results in our being even less equipped to deal with such threats than we were before this phase of the War for the Free World began on September 11, 2001.

In analyzing Gaffney's article, it is possible to go right for the underlying attitudes and insist that Gaffney hates political dissent in particular and liberty in general. That's what Glenn Greenwald does in a Feb. 14 post on his Salon blog. Nevertheless, superficiality has its virtues and it's useful to linger on the surface of the issues with Gaffney before plunging deeper. On the surface, Gaffney's article is part of a broad right-wing attack on the Democrats and especially the new Democratic congress. In this sense, Gaffney's strident accusations should be considered as a companion to conservative accusations concerning Nancy Pelosi's air travel, John Edwards' bloggers, claims concerning the effect of anti-surge resolutions on troop morale, claim about Barack Obama being educated in radical madrassas, and the Bush administration's aggressive stance toward Iran. They're all experiments by the right-wing in the effort to find a rhetorical edge that would allow them to mobilize public opinion against the Democrats. The right-wing does not care about Pelosi's plane any more than they care about Edwards' bloggers. The point is to find something, anything that will damage the Democrats at a time when President Bush, the war, and the Republicans are becoming less and less popular.

It is important to emphasize that the right-wing is up against the political wall. There's a 21 month time frame before the 2008 election with no viable candidate from the right and all the political trends favoring Democrats and liberals. If the right does not reverse the trends against President Bush, against the war, and against the right-wing view of foreign policy, the right is going to find itself excluded from Presidential as well as Congressional power. As a result, they're throwing all the mud against the wall that they can in the hope that something, anything, will stick. In many ways, Gaffney's "hanging rhetoric" is just another bit of right-wing mud. One can really question the extent to which Gaffney agrees with his position any more than Levin.

However, Gaffney's rhetoric does embody a real anger and desperation that isn't part of the insinuations about Nancy Pelosi's air travel. Beginning with the defeat of impeachment in 1998, the right's patience with any kind of political interaction with the Democrats has gradually worn out. The Bush administration has maintained as much of a "no negotiation" policy with the Democratic leadership as they have with the Iran, a strategy that began when the Republican leadership refused to negotiate with the Clinton administration after the failure of impeachment in 1998. Now that the Democrats are winning elections and are a real threat to run the table in 2008 by winning the presidency and controlling both houses of Congress, the Republicans are becoming even more strident. In this sense, the pointed invoking of the language of treason by Gaffney is a follow-up to Newt Gingrich's calls to effectively revoke the First Amendment in relation to the War on Terror. The best way to view this is that the right-wing is preparing itself to adopt a scorched-earth policy toward the Democrats controlling the government after the 2008. That should be no surprise. Right-wingers in the minority won't be any prettier than right-wing government has been over the last six years.

Plunging a little deeper into values ideas, right-wingers like Gaffney don't just reject liberty. Of course they reject dissent, but what they particularly reject about liberty is the the ability of dissenters to win democratic elections and adapt their views into law. However, the right-wing rejects a great deal about American society besides political dissent. They also reject abortion rights, the broad social tolerance toward gays, the high level of comfort that most of American society has with illegal immigration, the persistence of African-American, Hispanic and other non-Anglo sub-cultures, and the relatively high rates of divorce, pre-marital sex, drug use, and other evidence of moral laxness. In other words, the right-wing rejects most of contemporary American life for the pre-1960's world as they imagine it.

In this context, the threat posed by the Gaffney article is that it represents the possibility of a broad, right-wing rejectionist movement after the potential Democratic victories of 2008. To put the issue in Dick Cheney language, Gaffney's positions could be the harbinger of a New Confederacy as it were.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Opening for Newt

Yesterday, I saw something that caught my eye in the coverage of Mitt Romney's announcement of his presidential campaign. According to Fox, Romney "is considered a serious candidate in the same tier as McCain and former two-term New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani."

That just is not the case.

The top tier of the Republican presidential race is Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, with Giuliani stretching out to a 33% to 24.5% lead. Mitt Romney is trailing at 6.2% which is about what John Kerry was polling at when he declared himself out of the race. Despite a couple months of blanket coverage, Romney is barely registering with Republican voters. To say that Romney's even a second tier candidate is more charitable than accurate.

In fact, the second tier candidate is Newt Gingrich polling at an 11% RCP average in the national surveys and at 16% in the most recent Iowa poll. That's more than twice as much as Romney, a fact undoubtedly has not escaped Newt's notice.

Ultimately, there's a better chance of Newt moving up into the first tier of candidates than Mitt Romney. Indeed Newt has a lot of advantages in a Republican primary. First, Gingrich has a national reputation and a lot of experience in national policy debates. As a result, he doesn't have to spend a lot of money introducing himself to Republicans (like Giuliani and Romney). Unlike John McCain, Newt is a much-loved figure among most factions of Republicans.

Perhaps more importantly, not entering the race at an early date means that Newt Gingrich does not have to undergo the damaging interrogation from the right-wing that's currently being administered to McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. Having to tack right has already cost McCain a great deal of support among moderates without him gaining anything among the right-wingers who won't forgive McCain/Feingold or comprehensive immigration reform. Having to explain his marriage to a cousin, the mistress in the mayor's mansion, and his support for abortion rights and gay rights will eventually bring Giuliani down as well. Given the weaknesses of the Republican contenders, Gingrich might hop into the race if he ever reaches 20% in Iowa.

Gingrich's other advantage is that he is more "well-rounded" as a conservative than the other Republican contenders. Gingrich is a long established neo-con in foreign policy, social conservative on abortion and gay rights, and pro-business guy in economics. Neither Giuliani nor Romney can match Newt's long record of social conservatism while McCain is too much on the side of government regulation to satisfy the free market zealots.

If Newt plays his cards right and either McCain or Giuliani falter, Gingrich could find himself in the first tier by Labor Day. That's a lot more than Mitt Roney can say.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bush's Loosening Grip

Just as Democrats like Nancy Pelosi are beginning to organize little pockets of shadow government, the Bush renegades are slowly losing their grip on the rest of the government.

The best illustration of this is the continuing controversy over Iranian weapons in Iraq. Last Saturday, an anonymous "senior defense official" and two other equally anonymous experts claimed that effective roadside bombs called "explosively formed penetrators" or EFP were manufactured in Iran and handed over to Iraqi Shiite militias by the Quds units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards under the orders of Iraqi leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Given that these kinds of claims were relentlessly hyped in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, there has been a lot of legitimate questioning over whether the anonymity of the presenters meant that the Bush administration wanted to distance itself from the potentially spurious claims. My sense though is that the Bush administration decided that an "anonymous" general would be more credible than senior Bush officials. Thus, the administration has decided that the President Bush himself, Dick Cheney, and Condoleeza Rice no longer have the credibility needed to convince the public that administration claims about Iran are true. So they used an "anonymous" presenter instead. In other words, the Bush administration has begun to lose its nerve.

Then today, General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, directly contradicted the Bush administration's position on these same weapons, claiming that there was no basis for accusing the Iranian government of interfering in Iraq even if the "explosively-formed penetrators" were manufactured in Iran. Of course, Pace is right. If the weapons indeed are Iranian made (still a "big if"), there are lots of ways that don't involve the Iranian government to get weapons into Iraq and the Bush administration does not have good enough intelligence to determine how the weapons would be moving into Iraq. However, the larger point is that General Pace is "off the reservation" on such an important point for the Bush administration. As Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Pace is the most important political appointee in the American military. The fact that he has gone "off message" means both that he is dismissive of the Bush administration's campaign against Iran and that he does not fear retaliation from the higher levels of the administration. In other words, the Bush administration has lost control over General Pace. Normally, losing control over the military during a time of war would be a dangerous thing, but what Peter Pace's independence means is that the Bush administration is now a little less dangerous.

The Bush administration is not doing any better with Congressional Republicans. Although Sen. Mitch McConnell is fighting a rear-guard action for Bush in the Senate, House Republicans have decided not to defend the Bush administration's surge policy in this week's debate over Nancy Pelosi's anti-surge resolution. According to a letter obtained by Talking Points Memo, the Republican leadership is advising GOP representatives to talk about almost anything but the surge:

"The debate should not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be about the Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the current situation in Iraq, we lose."

The Bush administration has always sneered at any idea that they need support from our major European allies. The Bush administration did not care if the intelligence community, retired generals, or public opinion did not support them either. The Bush administration didn't govern according to the polls and why would they care about what the "bureaucracy" thought anyway? But the Bush administration is gradually finding that no one except the Prime Minister of Australia wants to "carry their water" (to use a phrase from racist talk-show host Rush Limbaugh) anymore. The Bush administration is lucky that there is no tradition of coups in the United States. Otherwise, they would be very ripe for a coup d'etat.

Blogging the RSI Family

Obama is Doomed! Local kids and their parents have picked up on all the Barack stereotypes that the right-wing has been circulating about Obama. The father of one of Katy's friends wouldn't vote for Obama because he believes Obama's a Muslim. Another friend believes that Obama was raised as a Muslim militant. Katy herself thinks that Obama's Irish--Barack O' Obama.

Irish Accents? My daughter Tess just said that if she had Irish blood on both sides she'd have an accent. Growing up in Eastern Kentucky, Tess is going to have an accent whether she has Irish blood on both sides or not.

Hope Springs Eternal. Even as tonight's rain is washing away the last of the snow, Tess got out the "snowball shields" in case tonight's "wintry mix" results in school cancellation.

The Wages of Belligerence

The Ahmadinejad in the Mirror. In an interview with C-Span yesterday, President Bush claimed that "The Iranian people are good, honest, decent people and they've got a government that is belligerent, loud, noisy, threatening--a government which is in defiance of the rest of the world and says "We want a nuclear weapon." The United States already has nuclear weapons, but the rest of the statement captures the Bush administration in a nutshell--"belligerent, loud, noisy, threatening . . . in defiance of the rest of the world." Like President Ahmadinejad, Bush is also an increasingly unpopular and isolated figure at home and responding to his isolation by increasing his belligerence . . . toward Iran.

Other People's Deaths. The advantage of being a super-power is that the United States can make other people pay the vast majority of the cost for its mistakes. In the case of the war on terror, we (and it's painful to include myself here) have made the people of Iraq pay the price for the election of our Ahmadinejad. Yesterday, car bombs in Baghdad killed 78 people to mark the anniversary of the bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra. That didn't count the numbers of men and women who were assassinated by Sunni insurgents and Shiite militia. Estimates vary, but it looks like more than 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war. In his second inaugural address, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the American civil war was the price that this country paid for the sin of slavery. I wonder if there will be such an ultimate price for out invasion of Iraq.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dancing Around RedState Religion

Dancing My Way. Last Saturday, I danced up a storm at the Valentines Gala at the Carl Perkins Center in Morehead, KY. I stomped, boogied, shimmied, and twisted the bulging discs in my back and neck all the way back to the chiropractor's table on Monday.

But it was worth it!

I loved dancing in high school and college and sometimes danced three times a week to the local bands. At the local high school here in Kentucky, students only get three dances or so in a year. Talk about dance deprivation! Because they are hemmed in by evangelical religious prejudices against dancing, high school students are really deprived. Dancing to high school bands is highly democratic. It's individual expression; it's training in responding to other people; and its feeling like you're part of a group. Kids in this area often have trouble both in expressing themselves individually and identifying with groups. They would do better if they had more opportunities to dance. I know I'm a better person because I danced so much as a young guy.

Steppin to It. Not that religion is all bad. The Lexington Herald-Leader has a story on a Georgetown College (north of Lexington) dance team that engages in a form of "step dancing" that originated as a mode of communication among black miners in South Africa. The choreographer, Nicole Wilson, views the dancing as a way to show "the love of God" and has the dancers recite John 3:16 as they dance. Compared to evangelical churches, African-American religion has a very appealing emphasis on love, freedom, and social justice that's expressed by the dance team. White churches would do well to follow their example.

In fact. Some extraordinary things happen in religion. Kentucky has the second highest rate of disabilities in the country after West Virginia and people here routinely face disasters for either themselves or their families. However, one of the inspiring things about living in Kentucky is the heroic lengths that people go to help each other. The Herald-Leader had a particularly inspiring story today about a couple who met while both were going through extremely hard times--chronic unemployment on his part and the deaths of several close relatives on hers. When the story of their wedding got out, local businesses donated "photographic, cake, and music services" for the wedding. The couple viewed the generosity as "God working miracles." Those kinds of miracles should be part of the dance of life.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Bush Ship Sinks Deeper

There's an old saying that "loose lips sink ships." Of course, the Bush ship has already sunk. But the loose-lipped comments of former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith on Fox today are going to sink the Bush ship even further. Feith argued that his office never claimed that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. Here's the key quote:

"Nobody in my office ever said there was an operational relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda. It's just not correct. I mean, words matter. And people are throwing around loose allegations, vague allegations, based on not reading the words carefully. "

Via Talking Points Memo, Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly and Laura Rozen show that Feith had indeed leaked a document to The Weekly Standard claiming a Saddam/al-Qaida relationship. But he Feith controversy isn't just a minor "gotcha" catching Feith lying in the present. It's a big "gotcha." Thinking about this closely, Feith practically admitted that he lied about the purported Saddam/al-Qaeda link in his original leak to The Weekly Standard. Most importantly, Feith implicitly admitted that the allegation of a Saddam/al-Qaeda link was not true. If Feith had thought that the Saddam/al-Qaeda accusation were true, he would have either bragged about the leak or dishonestly expressed regret that he hadn't made the point himself.

In denying any connection to the leak, Feith effectively disowned the Saddam/ al-Qaida link. That's huge. Nobody in the Bush administration has coped to a false allegation since the "sixteen little word" confession about Nigerian yellowcake. I wonder if Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz are going to start confessing to their Iraq lies by denying that they ever made the claim in the first place. It may turn out that the new lies of the Bush administration will trip up their old lies.

That's certainly the case with Feith. He also admits implicitly that anyone who put out the claim was lying. Given that Feith was the person responsible for leaking the claim to the Weekly Standard, he was the one who was lying.