Archive for February 4th, 2007
If you find the little Snap “preview” irritating, just click “options” on its screen when it appears, and you can turn it off. I prefer Cooliris, which I can control and which is installed in my browser so that it works for ALL sites. Just a thought.
A commenter to this post asked whether I believed in God and what my religious orientation was. I do not believe in a God that follows the NFL and steps in to fix the outcome of the Super Bowl (though more than 1 in 4 do).
The flavor of God that I find most appealing (YMMV) is the God as described by process theology, and the best book to start with is Charles Hartshorne’s Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (and you can read the preface and the introduction to the first chapter in this post). This God is described (in the negative, as it were) in Process Theology: an introductory exposition, by John B. Cobb, Jr., and David Ray Griffin, as follows:
The Washington Post reports on the administration’s purge of federal prosecutors this morning and finds that the call for the move came, shockingly, from outside the Justice Department:
One administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in discussing personnel issues, said the spate of firings was the result of “pressure from people who make personnel decisions outside of Justice who wanted to make some things happen in these places.”
In other words, the pressure to replace the prosecutors did not come from the people who would know about the U.S. Attorneys’ job performance (their supervisors at the Justice Department), but rather from power players in the White House or Republican Party. That would explain why the seven federal prosecutors purged in December were not given a reason for their dismissals — and why justifications for the firings have sounded like lame rationalizations.
This fits, of course, with McClatchy’s finding last week that the Bush administration, in a break with the practice of prior administrations, has been placing conservative loyalists in U.S. Attorney spots across the country. Instead of nominating local, qualified attorneys whose philosophy jibes with the administration (as was the traditional practice), the nomination of U.S. Attorneys has been subsumed into the Republican Party’s political machine. Apparently the title of U.S. Attorney is just too attractive a resumé-fattener to dole out helter-skelter. And while you’re fattening the resumés of possible future stars of the party, it can’t hurt to knock out a prosecutor who was doing considerable damage to the party.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will be holding a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue Tuesday called, “Preserving Prosecutorial Independence: Is the Department of Justice Politicizing the Hiring and Firing of U.S. Attorneys?” Let’s see if he comes up with an answer.
Lessons we thought had been learned from Vietnam were forgotten in the rush to invade Iraq. And now, as we cover President Bush’s ratcheting up of the rhetoric against Iran, it’s looking like the lessons we should have learned from Iraq may not have been learned at all. So at the risk of stating the obvious, here are some thoughts about what those lessons were.
You Can’t Be Too Skeptical of Authority
- Don’t assume anything administration officials tell you is true. In fact, you are probably better off assuming anything they tell you is a lie.
- Demand proof for their every assertion. Assume the proof is a lie. Demand that they prove that their proof is accurate.
- Just because they say it, doesn’t mean it should be make the headlines. The absence of supporting evidence for their assertion — or a preponderance of evidence that contradicts the assertion — may be more newsworthy than the assertion itself.
- Don’t print anonymous assertions. Demand that sources make themselves accountable for what they insist is true.
Provocation Alone Does Not Justify War
- War is so serious that even proving the existence of a casus belli isn’t enough. Make officials prove to the public that going to war will make things better.
- Demand to know what happens if the war (or tactical strike) doesn’t go as planned?
- Demand to know what happens if it does? What happens after “victory”?
- Ask them: Isn’t it possible this will make things worse, rather than better?
Be Particularly Skeptical of Secrecy
- Don’t assume that these officials, with their access to secret intelligence, know more than you do.
- Alternately, assume that they do indeed know more than you do – and are trying to keep intelligence that would undermine their arguments secret.
A bad, tasteless joke. ThinkProgress has several examples today, with video. Check them out:
McCain: Contradicts himself in 47 seconds (click for video):
On ABC’s This Week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said it is unrealistic to expect the escalation strategy to change the situation in Iraq in “a few months”:
MCCAIN: Took us a long time to get in the situation we’re in, and to say that — and somehow assume that in a few months, that things are going to get all better I think is not realistic.
Just 47 seconds later, McCain said we’ll know whether the escalation strategy is working “in a few months”:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You say it’s all in. How long are you going to give it to work?
MCCAIN: I think in the case of the Iraqi government cooperating and doing what’s necessary, we can know fairly well in a few months.
McCain: Consequences of missed benchmarks are “obvious,” but then he can’t name them (click for video)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And in fact, your resolution lays out benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet. But critics of it say there are no consequences spelled out if they don’t meet these goals. There’s no teeth.
MCCAIN: Well, the consequences are obvious. I mean, if they’re not meeting those benchmarks, then obviously the new strategy isn’t succeeding. And I can’t tell you what the other options are, because there are no good options to this. If there was a good option to what we’re doing, to sending more young Americans in harm’s way, I’d tell you. They’re all bad options, in my view, if this one isn’t supported and succeeds.
McCain’s not alone in this, BTW. Most of those supporting the escalation can’t (or won’t) say what will happen if benchmarks are not met:
McCain isn’t the only one who can’t make sense of toothless benchmarks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last week that benchmarks were “the best way to determine if the Iraqis are holding up their end of the bargain but he stopped short of saying what the U.S. should do it the Iraqis fall short. ‘I think everyone knows what the consequences are,’ McConnell said without specifying what he thinks they are, even when pressed. ‘I’m not going to start playing out the scenarios,’ he added.”
Chuck Hagel lays it on the line (click for video): McCain Resolution Is ‘Disingenuous’ And ‘Intellectually Dishonest’
HAGEL: There’s a difference. The other position that Senator Warner — and I think there are now 12 bipartisan members of the Senate on that resolution — that resolution states very clearly we disagree with adding more troops into Iraq. Very simply put, we disagree with escalating our military involvement in Iraq.
That is totally different, George, then saying let’s get out, let’s cut the funds. This notion that somehow we’re not supporting our troops, that’s not true. In fact, I think if you want to go to a disingenuous resolution, this idea about putting benchmarks on the Iraqi government…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator McCain’s idea.
HAGEL: Yes, and then having no consequences, now that’s intellectually dishonest. So what are the consequences? Are we then going to pull out? If the benchmarks are not met by the Maliki government, are we then going to walk out? Are we then going to bring our troops home? Are we going to cut funding? Now, that falls more in the intellectually dishonest category.
Oh, and speaking of intellectual dishonesty, Read the rest of this entry »