A House Without Decency

In a scuffle over HR 1227, Gene Taylor had his remarks stricken from the record, and his right to speak for the day rescinded after complaints from Tom Price.  The problem?

Apparently, you aren’t allowed to question a fellow Congressman’s “decency” on the floor of the House. How could we ever abide such harsh rhetoric! What will we tell the children?

Really.  It’s that specific:

He added that he was not aware the word “decency” was not to be used in that context.

During a debate over a bill to provide affordable housing for hurricane Katrina victims, this was deemed important enough to waste time on.  If a senator decided to force the entire house to sit and wait while he got a high score playing unreal tournament, might this not be considered a waste of taxpayer’s money?  Why any less so for whining about accurate criticism?  (Via DavidNYC of DailyKos, From SunHerald):

“Mr. Price, I wish you would have the decency if you are going to do that to the people of South Mississippi, that maybe you ought to come visit South Mississippi, and see what has happened before you hold them to a standard that you would never hold your own people to, and that you failed to hold the Bush administration to.”

David gets to the accuracy of the statement in his opening paragraph:

As we’ve long known, the GOP has no problem writing blank checks for Bush’s indefensible war. But as soon as it comes to domestic spending on anyone but the ultra-rich, they pretend to be the party of fiscal responsibility. Indeed, it’s a pretension they relish whenever it gives them the opportunity to stick it to the less well-off.

Tom Price’s whine-fest aside, the idea that any speech can be stricken from the record, or that your right to speak as a representative can be revoked is repugnant.  The house effectively silenced every citizen Gene Taylor represents because it did not approve of his use of language!

How can a body that purports to represent the American public have the utter lack of decency to resort to such a tactic?

ERA: What the Right is Willing to Sacrifice Women’s Rights For

The Equal Rights Amendment may finally see the light of day.  Shakes has it down to a science:

I’m crying. I’m honestly sitting here crying, reading that line and thinking that it may finally make its way into the Constitution in my lifetime.

That sentence would subject legal claims of gender discrimination to the same strict scrutiny given by courts to allegations of racial discrimination.

…”I think we’ve made a lot of people think about this and say, ‘Yes, this is the right thing to do,’ ” said Arkansas state Rep. Lindsley Smith (D), who sponsored the ERA and has vowed to bring it up again when the legislature reconvenes in 2009. “The question I get most frequently is ‘Lindsley, I thought this already was in the Constitution.’ “

Yeah, I’ve heard that once or twice myself. Probably because most Americans are fucking amazed that it isn’t.

There is no reason in hell why it shouldn’t already be.  That won’t stop the bigoted opposition from trying to stop the amendment (emphasis mine):

Of course, the usual suspects are reemerging to fight it, just like they did last time: “In the 1970s, Schlafly and others argued that the ERA would lead to women being drafted by the military and to public unisex bathrooms. Today, she warns lawmakers that its passage would compel courts to approve same-sex marriages and deny Social Security benefits for housewives and widows.” The real issue buried in all that nonsense is, of course, “same-sex marriages.” Other opponents are all fidgety “because courts in two states have ruled that equal-rights amendments in state constitutions justify state funding for abortion.” Said Arkansas state Rep. Dan Greenberg (R): “The more general language you have in a constitutional amendment, the more unpredictable the policy impact will be.”

Yeah, who knows what will happen when we finally recognize women as equals?! Maybe frogs will fall from the fucking sky!

The same fear of unexpected repercussions was dredged up when Massachusetts began recognizing same sex marriages.  Shakes is right on though, this will be a battle about same sex marriage and abortion, although I expect same sex marriage to play a more prominent role (it is scarier, after all).  I don’t know how successful that strategy will be.  Amanda has some good insights:

I welcome the fight. The only thing that the ERA has against it is that it’s pretty much certain that if it passes, same sex marriage will get legalized in its wake. That’s politically problematic, but as a human rights issue, it needs to happen. Expect that conservatives will return to the issue repeatedly, and denying that this is a side effect is both degrading to gays and lesbians and untrue to boot. But again, this isn’t the 70s. People have become acclimated to the idea of gender-neutral marriage, so that’s not nearly the obstacle it was in the past.

Even so, it will help to frame this firmly as a trade.  As Shakes notes:

Opponents of the WEA are so tired. Their arguments against it are so tired. Waaaaah! Same-sex marriage! Waaaaah! Abortion! They’re willing to deny my equality under the law just because it might open the door to other battles they’re eventually going to lose, anyway.

There is no reason to trade fundamental equality under the law for homophobia.  That is precisely what opponents of the ERA are preparing to do.   It puts them in a weak position.  It comes down to:

“My Rights or Your Bigotry?”

The right to be free from discrimination applies to everyone, not just women.  The fact that it will have the most impact on Women’s Rights is simply sad commentary on our society.  This is a Human Rights issue, and it is past time for the United States to take a strong lead by confirming Equal Rights regardless of Sex.

Pesky Post Humans: Convert or Die!

Dave takes a nother look at some choice eliminationist crazy talk from the right (quoting Mark Steyn):

It’s getting harder not to conclude that parts of Europe are evolving into a kind of post-human society.

“Post-human”? The clear implication of this coinage is that these people are also sub-human, or in any event non-human — and by extension, fully worthy of extinction or elimination.

Mark Noonan continues the crazy talk:

And then Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush picked it up and ran with it, extending the reach of these “post humans” to America as well, and concluding thus:

There are two things which can stop this slide into barbarism and death: the conquest of the west by people who believe in something, or the revival of a west which has returned to its moral and intellectual roots. Those are the choices – be conquered by Moslems (who at least believe in something higher than themselves and their personal pleasures), or become Judeo-Christian. Death or conversion, take your pick.

It isn’t too hard to see the basic theme of palingenesis running through this analysis — which, combined with the ugly eliminationism, makes this meme possibly the most definitively fascist talking point to proceed from the “mainstream” right yet.

If you click through to Mark’s post, it just get’s worse:

We’ve been energetically going away from these roots for more than a century and a half, and our result of this is cannibalism, incest and infanticide. There’s a word for all that: barbarism.

Mark is placing the West’s “moral and intellectual roots” at opposition with the barbarism of ‘”modern” thinking’.  There are a host of problems with his rant:

  1. During whatever “golden age” Mark is imagining,  does he really think that cannibalism, incest and infanticide did not exist?  Or is he faithfully pointing to the theocratic Dark Ages as a model of human decency?
  2. The “moral and intellectual roots” Mark is pointing to is clearly religion, specifically Christianity.  That, in conjunction with his dictum “Convert or Die”, is bringing back the blood and the suffering of the inquisition and other forced conversions throughout history.  It is painting the shame of the West as its glory.
  3. It assumes that a few violent cases represent the morality of an entire society.
  4. It assumes a those accused in said crimes are not religious.
  5. The forced conversion advocated is in no way compatible with the founding principles of this country.  I suppose this is to be expected from a “Blog for Bush”, but some pretense of care for the constitutional separation of Church and State would have been nice.

As a prescription for America, Mark’s advice would throw out our freedom in exchange for a bloodless past that never existed.  When Americans are called imperialists and crusaders, it is this kind of thinking that builds that perception.

This is an end we should all reject.

German Politician Called a Whore for Wearing Gloves

I must be missing something very central to German politics.  In this country there is this awful tendency in the press to focus on a woman’s fashion sense as a direct correlate of her political sense.  However in Germany the underlying misogyny is right out in the open:

A German politician who helped to topple Bavarian premier Edmund Stoiber has been attacked by her colleagues for posing in latex gloves for a magazine.

Pauli, who also wears a wig in the pictures, lashed out at the magazine for placing the photographs under a headline reading “Sankt (saint) Pauli.” The term is well known in Germany as the name of a Hamburg red light district.

Amanda has an old post of interest on the subject:

But as soon as I thought of that, I thought to myself, “But sluts are held in contempt by the patriachy because they are bold and unapologetic about having sexual urges.”

Even if Pauli did dress in a boldly sexual manner, how is that wrong?  Why should politicians lock parts of themselves away from the public?  Or are the Germans just as afraid of Sex as Americans are?  From the article (emphasis mine):

Politics needs to have a certain degree of respectability and Ms. Pauli has damaged this,” Norbert Geis, a national member of parliament in the CSU, told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung paper.

“Her behavior is beyond the pale. She has brought this on herself,” said party colleague Peter Uhl.

Politics is, after all, such a proud and serious business.  But note the frame here.  A women wearing gloves, specifically a woman who dresses in a way that men find sexual, is outside the realm of respect.  Also note the use of blame:  “She has brought this on herself”.  She is to blame for the way male politicians perceive her, and by extension for the way they act towards her (publicly criticism).

The criticism of Gabriele Pauli is such thinly veiled misogyny, you would think the politicians going on the attack would have opened themselves up to a severe verbal counter.

Oddly Enough, Reuters and Women

An article on France tackling the issue of grossly underweight models is up on Reuters.

It falls under the Oddly Enough section.  Right next to articles on April first pranks and “stolen mummy hairs”.  Is this an editorial prank, or does Reuters really believe women’s health belongs in this section?  The article itself has a serious tone:

Designers, model agencies and others in the fashion industry have been widely attacked for promoting an emaciated look which critics say contributes to eating disorders in young women.

“We must take a stand. When the girls weigh a kilo too much they are seen as failures,” Paris town councilor Violette Baranda told Le Parisien newspaper. “There are some twisted designers who are making women thinner and thinner.”

The issue was back on front pages this week after Donatella Versace, who owns part of one of Italy’s most famous fashion houses, said her daughter was suffering from the eating disorder anorexia.

What is Reuters thinking?

Candidates: Stand Tall and Roar on Health Care!

Why won’t any of the front runners endorse single payer health care?

CCR on CounterPunch via Commie Curmudgeon (II):

Polls indicate that the majority of the American people want single payer.

But who will deliver?

On Saturday, the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) sponsored a forum in Las Vegas for presidential candidates to discuss health care.

No Republicans accepted.

Seven Democrats accepted.

All the candidates at the forum agreed that universal health care was the goal. (Even the Business Roundtable and the insurance industry now say they want “universal health care.”)

But only one – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) – accepts the only answer that will work – single payer.

Chris Truscott weighs in, and it is his closing comment I want to highlight:

In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced his plan to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, he didn’t sugarcoat things. He called on Congress and the American people to do better; to accept the greatest challenge; to make a “firm commitment to a new course of action.”

As we know, Americans responded.

Nearly a half century later we can do the same thing on health care. But before we do that, our political leaders must find the courage to lead and meet this great challenge.

Health Care is a clear win issue.  Moving to single payer will cut costs, increase health, and save lives.  Americans want this.  This is the kind of issue that gets new, dedicated voters into the booths on election day.  It is the kind of issue that turns voters into volunteers.

Democrats are heading into 2008 strong.  The Republican candidates are weak, and burdened by Bush’s legacy.  However if the Democrats want to do more than win the White House by a small margin, we need to take bold action.  There are three policy areas where we are very strong, and an aggressive offense will leave the Republican party smoldering:

Democracy – On everything from verified voting to constitutional rights.  The Bush administration has either neglected or actively attacked the political foundation of this country.  Who will step up and defend it?

Security – We need to go after the terrorists without making new ones.  Perhaps even find a way to turn terrorists into sympathizers, sympathizers into moderates, and so on.  We need to recognize that disaster preparedness is part of security, and that over-extending our resources makes us vulnerable.  This applies to soldiers, it applies to loans, it applies to good will.

Health Care – This is a big three issue.  Our lives, and the quality of our lives, are profoundly affected by health insurance.  The economy is affected when people factor in health insurance into the jobs they choose and the money they spend.

On all three issues, candidates can take strong positions that will sweep state and federal candidates into office along side them.  To do this, we must have candidates who take those positions and hold them in the full fury of the right wing media machine.  Deflect pundit criticisms with the sharp  point of reality.  Beat back insurance industry lobbying with youtube virals (“Your Health, Your Right!”).  Strike down every false policy position on the big three with one hand, and with the other present a bold alternative immediately.  We can do this.  Imagine looking back on 2006 and realizing we were just warming up.

If the candidates can do this, they will be surprised at the power in their voices.  That will be us, joining in.  People Powered Politics is much much more than just a slogan (emphasis mine):

In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy announced his plan to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, he didn’t sugarcoat things. He called on Congress and the American people to do better; to accept the greatest challenge; to make a “firm commitment to a new course of action.”

As we know, Americans responded.

We will again in 2008.

Corporate Checks and Balances

When we discuss corporations, we need to recognize them as governments.  When you look at the start of the Labor movement and the tragedies that spurred it forward, the argument for organized labor and government regulations crystalizes.

Take Ilyka’s post over at Pandagon:

Sheila O’Malley reminds me that today marks the 96th anniversary of the Triangle Factory fire. Sheila has a link up to some pictures, or you can visit Cornell’s Triangle Fire web site.

If a government had been responsible for this tragedy… If it had been our own government, how would we react?  When libertarians argue passionately for a totally free market, it is as if each tragedy occurs in a vacuum, and history never repeats itself.  (Nevermind the possiblity that regulation could be thought of as part of the free market in itself).

Just as our government is supposed to have checks and balances, so should corporations.  One check is government oversight.  Another is citizen oversight.  The Public Relations industry didn’t spring up without a severe power to respond to: the public.

It is why fake grassroots organizations and efforts are viewed with such naked lust by corporations.  Broad public support is a marketer’s dream.  How would we think of fake websites if it had been the US Government instead of Sony?  There was some outcry over the Bush Administration’s efforts tackling mainstream media sources.  What if we found out a prominent right wing blog was run by a PR firm for the administration?

We have a right and an obligation to keep corporations in check, just as it is our right and obligation to keep our government in check.  Corporations can be as rigid and authoritarian as they like.  But in the end?  They are subject to our democracy.  They are subject to us.

Why Teaching Religion is a Good Idea

Time has a piece up on the Case for Teaching the Bible.  In it, one of the students observes:

Why take a Bible class? I asked her. “Some of my friends are Christian,” she said, shrugging, “and they would argue about, like, whether you can be a Christian and believe in evolution, and I’m like, Okaaaay … clueless.” Williams signed up for a similar reason. “If somebody is going to carry on a sophisticated conversation with me, I would rather know what they’re talking about than look like a moron or fight my way through it,” she says.

Very interesting logic.  One might ask, is one to take classes to prepare for any number of potential conversations?  In the case of religion, real religious literacy would be a wonderful thing to have.  But we really need to take a look at which religions our schools offer.  Why is there this default to Christianity?  Judaism just gets dragged along for the ride as part of the so called “Old Testament”.  Why aren’t we seriously considering classes in the Koran?

Take a look at the whole article:

A BASIC QUESTION: WHY TEACH THE BIBLE and not comparative religion? It may not be necessary to provide Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism with equal time, but it seems misguided to ignore faiths that millions of Americans practice each day; and a glance at the headlines further argues for an omnibus course. Yet could a school demand that its already overloaded kids take one elective if they take the other? Concerns about whether a Bible Belt Christian teacher could in good conscience teach a religiously neutral Bible course also plagued me. Was high school Bible study one of those great ideas that vaporizes when exposed to air?

What vaporizes is David Van Biema’s “basic question”.  If anything, one would think understanding the religion of the countries our leaders are trying so hard to conquer would be just as essential as understanding the Christian faith.  The closest the author gets to answering his basic question is this:

And, oh yes, there should be one faith test. Faith in our country. Sure, there will be bumps along the way. But in the end, what is required in teaching about the Bible in our public schools is patriotism: a belief that we live in a nation that understands the wisdom of its Constitution clearly enough to allow the most important book in its history to remain vibrantly accessible for everyone.

How is the Christian Bible the most important book in our history?  More than the writings of John Locke?  Thomas Paine? More than the histories of Rome and Athens, more than countless speeches that have stirred this nation to war and called upon us all to embrace peace?  His argument boils down to “Our country was founded on Christian themes, and therefore we should all learn about Christianity”.  It is made in that matter-of-fact (sans facts) way that can be so infuriating.  As though the cornerstone of the argument doesn’t need to be proved, merely accepted on faith.

Fostering a batter understanding of the worlds major religions and the philosophies behind them is a fantastic idea.  But there should be a very prudent suspicion behind a public school that only teaches one faith, and does so uncritically.  Teaching only Christianity in our schools is not the way to go.  Thankfully, the teacher profiled in the article looks quite up to the task of teaching one religion with open minded criticism.  Now when will the others be offered?

RIAA: Appearing Successful vs Bullying

Slashdot has the digs on the RIAA touting the number of students who have settled rather than face them in court:

As we’ve been reporting, the RIAA has been offering settlements to college students suspected of sharing music online. Reader Weather Storm notes that more than a quarter of the alleged music pirates have accepted the RIAA’s offer. Quoting: “…an attorney Ohio University arranged to meet with its students… said $3,000 is the standard settlement offer, though cases have settled for as much as $5,000.”

Slashdot has tagging as a beta on the site.  Each post collects a few tags.  Usually 2 – 3.  This one has 1 tag:  mafiaa (the extra a is a play on the name RIAA).  If you read through the +5 comments, you get a pretty good feel for how this move is viewed:

Even the innocent will settle. The only people who stand a chance are those who are so obviously innocent that the RIAA case against them is ridiculous.

Bringing out a number like this is counter productive for the RIAA.  If you are targeting the weak:

Many college students live off of credit cards and have no time for anything else. Consequently, without neither the time nor the financial resources to defend themselves, they are a vulnerable group. As former college students, the RIAA attorneys almost certainly know that.

Then you just look like a Bully.  Any other point is lost in that larger perception.   Plus, as one very insightful commenter observes:

If “More than a quarter of the alleged music pirates have accepted the RIAA’s offer”, what are the other 74.9% doing?

So not only does this draw attention to the harsh tactics of the RIAA, it also reminds everyone how many people are choosing not to settle, but to fight.

What was the association’s spokesman trying to accomplish here?

Fox News: Is Louder Better?

Commenting on my criticism of Fox News, Sally Jane Beaufort hits the nail on the head:

Let’s be honest here, Fox works because it’s loud and shiny.

How loud and shiny is Fox?  Let’s take a look:

Fox News Front Page

Just looking at the headlines on the left, wow.  Nukes lead the pack, with a murdered coed’s body “grilled”, and “Low as you can stoop for a dollar”.  The Hospital clerk preyed on the dead and dying.

With just those two headlines next to each other, one might expect to scroll down and find a story about zombies.  Definitely loud.

Now I’d offer up a left-wing news corporation as a counter-point, only there aren’t any.  So I’ll go with a middle of some road corporate outfit.  CNN:CNN Front Page

The headline on Blair calling Iran’s seizure of Troops “very serious”.  The rest of the headlines are toned down, but what really caught my eye was the headline for the story on the girl who was murdered in Texas:  “Sheriff:  Student murdered, burned on patio grill”.  The contrast is striking.

The Fox News headline leaves one with the impression of canabalism hanging in the air.  The CNN headline suggess the grill was a means of disposing of the body.

If I could sum up the overall tone of each organization’s front page:

Fox:  “Death is waiting for your vigilance to slip!”

CNN:  “Very serious things are going on in the world today.  Won’t you have a read?”

I think having a definitively slanted lefty news organization would be interesting.  But would it have to be wild and loud to succeed?  Or is Fox’s reach more attributable to its slant rather than its foamy volume?

Republicans are Weird About Sex

In a political juxtaposition that can only be described as brilliant, Tennessee Republicans have delayed a bill to make bestiality a felony, and also stopped a measure honoring Justin Timberlake on account of “sexy words”:

Seems that Senator Finney and other state Republicans don’t like references in the resolution to the name of Timberlake’s (“FutureSex/LoveSounds”) or the names of certain songs, such as “Rock Your Body.” Which is just ridiculous. I mean, he brought the sexy back for Christ’s sake.

But the Tennessee legislature clearly has its priorities all out of whack because the state Senate also deferred addressing pending legislation that would make it a felony to have sex with an animal.

So honoring Justin Timberlake? No. Bestiality? Sure.

Ok.  So they also want death certificates for fetuses:

Take a look at this.

Legislation introduced in Tennessee would require death certificates for aborted fetuses, which likely would create public records identifying women who have abortions.

Oh, and they can’t stand sex education:

one of the most intellectually interesting and morally frustrating aspects of the reproductive rights debate is how anti-choicers have clued into the fact that in lieu of controlling people’s actual actions by the state, they at least can coerce sexual behavior they desire out of people by lying. More and more often, the debate over reproductive justice is about information and who gets to have access to the truth. It starts with abstinence-only “education”

But they value babies and giving birth.  In fact Republicans have put forward a really really strange Texas birth bill:

In a move that seems on its surface to be designed to a) embarass Texas yet again and b) insult women, Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick is attempting to set the price of making a baby at $500, payable only to those women who give up their babies for adoption. I whipped out my handy calculator and figured out what Patrick is setting as the hourly wage for baby-making, and it’s at $.07 an hour. So whenever you hear an anti-choicer get all misty-eyed and sentimental about the gift of life and how it’s a woman’s most important role, remember, they value that gift as less valuable than the gift of recycling cans. And they value a woman’s “most” important role in life at 1/100th the minimum wage.

So Republicans are anti-choice.  However their actions on sex education simply stops safe sex.  As Amanda notes:

In reality, abstinence-only often doesn’t coerce people out of having sex so much as it coerces them into refusing protection when they do so.

Their position on sex education is profoundly ineffective.  This ties back into that bestiality/sexy words juxtaposition.  It is simply a foolish error, but it is a telling one.  There is nothing practical about the Republican position on Sex.

Republicans are carving out a very vulnerable position on Sex.  Sex is framed as a social duty permissible only in certain circumstances for the specific purpose of future citizen creation.  Every attempt at censoring sex on tv and in the movies, every shot at homosexuality, and every jab at reproductive rights falls into a medieval Anti-Fornication platform.

This leaves the mantle of being “Pro-Sex” open.  It would be an easy (and sexy!) mantle to claim.  Support choice.  Support sexy words and situations in entertainment and in life.  This is a position a savvy candidate could have a lot of fun with.

I can see the bumper stickers now:  Vote Sexy!  Vote Democratic!

Wikipedia: Experts Without Expertise

Wikipedia is usually quite awesome.  But the deletion spree some of the editors are embarking on is sheer madness.

Overcompensating is an awesome webcomic by Jeffrey Rowland, and he has a sharp take on the problem (emphasis mine):

Wikipedia editors are going sort of crazy with their fake power. They deleted the entry for Overcompensating and I didn’t know it. They also have deleted such comics as Ugly Hill and White Ninja and many others. Apparently it’s not up to the tens of thousands of people who read these comics to determine the “notability” of their favorite comics; it’s a couple of dudes with absolutely nothing better to do.

The whole point of the Wikipedia is collaborative knowledge.  The main criticism of Wikipedia is the lack of expertise.  These deletions take the worst of both worlds:  A few people making the decisions, but without the domain-specific expertise to make well informed decisions.

What Is Bush Hiding?

Shakes has a very interesting line of thought starting with the US Attorney scandal (emphasis mine):

Taking everything we now know into account, some important questions arise. Why the obvious concern from the president about what could happen were he to use e-mail? To use the classic refrain employed by countless pro-warrantless wiretapping Republicans: Why avoid e-mail if you have nothing to hide? Also, why the seeming willingness by so many top administration officials to avoid perhaps the most omnipresent method of communication available today? Could it really be that Bush, Gonzales, Rice, Chertoff and Rumsfeld are each so technologically illiterate that they can’t master a simple e-mail application? Or could it be something else entirely? To wit: A coordinated administration effort to avoid accountability at all costs, from bosses shielded from accumulating an electronic paper trail to staffers conducting official business on decidedly unofficial e-mail accounts.

This fits everything we know about this administration.  Its willingness to lie.  Its view that it is above the law.  Shakes continues:

If you couple the president’s obvious distrust of e-mail communications with the fact that both he and other top officials don’t use e-mail, a picture begins to emerge. When you add to these facts the notion that other administration officials are conducting official business using unofficial e-mail addresses, the picture becomes clearer. Given this administration’s history of avoidance of openness and distrust of democracy, this matter is definitely worthy of further discussion and research.

It definitely is.  It is also worthy of congressional investigation.

Arguing in the Face of Evidence

Sometimes people ignore the truth that is literally right in front of their nose:

This passage from this diary by ryeland is hilarious, describing a scene during a Chris Matthews’ interview of Tom DeLay today:

Matthews grilled DeLay about passages in his book where he apparently ripped into fellow corrupt Texan Dick Armey, eventually asking the Hammer about describing Armey as “drunk with ambition.” DeLay denied writing that. “I wrote that he was ‘blinded by his ambition.'” Matthews starts flipping though the book and finds the “drunk with ambition” quote and reads it to Bug Man. And DeLay keeps denying it. Finally, Chris hands the book to Tom and tells him to read it himself. DeLay looks down, pauses, and says “I don’t have my glasses.”

When Chris Matthews started reading from the book, did Tom suddenly start thinking “Crap! He’s going to pretend to read from my book to trick me! Well I am tricksier!”? This really looks as if Tom was simply determined to plow ahead regardless of the evidence. By the time Chris hands him his own book, he can only respond with a quixotic “I don’t have my glasses”.

Tom Delay is that guy from Scooby Doo who, once caught, pretended his mask was still on.

Powerline vs The Young Turks on Gore: Bad Argument

Over at aol’s news bloggers, Powerline and The Young Turks are having a bit of back and forth over Gore.

Powerline slips up:

Finally, Gore was concerned about the Bush administration’s use of the doctrine of preemption as a basis for attacking Iraq. Gore postulated that the use of this doctrine in Iraq logically would suggest “a string of military engagements against a succession of sovereign states: Syria, Libya, North Korea, Iran, etc.” But there has been no such string of engagements.

There are a couple of problems with this. First, from a logical perspective. Gore’s argument is:

  1. We can attack based on a perceived threat
  2. Syria, Libya, North Korea, Iran, etc are perceived as threats
  3. We can attack Syria, Libya, North Korea, Iran, etc

As soon as the “doctrine of preemption” becomes policy, Gores conclusion is applied. It is a sound argument. As Gore says:

It means also that if the Congress approves the Iraq resolution just proposed by the Administration it is simultaneously creating the precedent for preemptive action anywhere, anytime this or any future president so decides.

Paul of Powerline’s counter to Gore’s argument?  We have not yet actually attacked other countries since using the  “doctrine of preemption”.  That argument does not cut at a single premise of Gore’s argument.  It misses entirely.

Now let’s take a look at this from a rhetorical perspective.  Paul’s argument is not logically valid (never mind sound!).  This is an obvious weakness.  But take a look a Johnathen Schwarz’s post over at This Modern World (quoting Democracy Now):

He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

Gore was actually arguing that we would be creating a justification for war that could then be used on other countries.  There is evidence to support this.  That is the second weakness in the argument.

Gore was right.