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November 30, 2006

Re: Is Iraq in a Civil War? Are You Kidding Me?

[Comment to Is Iraq in a Civil War?  Are You Kidding Me? in Huffington Post 11/30/2006]

There is clearly a civil war in Iraq.

The question is what to now call the nature of our current involvement.  The war ended when we toppled the government of Iraq ... at which point the occupation began.  But after establishing a new sovereign government and although we apply constant military activity we are unable to “restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.” [Art. 43, Hague Conventions of 1907 -- “Laws and Customs of War on Land”)

So it would appear we are engaged in an illegal occupation.

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The difference between atheists and the religious

The difference between atheists and the religious is that the religious disbelieve in all but one religion and athiests disbelieve in just one more.

[Derived from a Sam Harris post where he writes, “Everyone has rejected an infinite number of spurious claims about God. The atheist simply rejects one more.”]

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Day 3 (Harris): Why Are Atheists So Angry? | Jewcy.com

Re: Day 3 (Harris): Why Are Atheists So Angry? | Jewcy.com:

I trust we both feel that slavery was an abomination, despite the fact that no matter how you squint your eyes the Bible tells us that it is okay to keep slaves. (Who decides what is good in the Good Book? Answer: We do. Our moral intuitions are still primary. It makes absolutely no sense, therefore, to think that we get our basic sense of right and wrong out of scripture).

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Why Are Atheists So Angry?

Re: Day 1 (Sam Harris): Why Are Atheists So Angry? | Jewcy.com:

Incompatible beliefs about this God long ago shattered our world into separate moral communities—Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc.—and these divisions remain a continuous source of human violence.

And yet, while the religious divisions in our world are self-evident, many people still imagine that religious conflict is always caused by a lack of education, by poverty, or by politics. Yet the September 11th hijackers were college-educated, middle-class, and had no discernible experience of political oppression.

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More on ideological shift in mid-terms

In a previous post, I excerpted some comments on how the Republican Party in the mid-terms ceded the center, with moderate Republicans losing out, causing a net movement to right, leaving them as an ever more extreme party.

This interesting post, has a graphic that shows the current 109th Congress, with a conservative index plotted for Democrats (blue) and for Republicans (red), then with a dotted line showing the conservative index rating for the displaced Republicans.  (Since the new congresspeople haven't voted yet, they can't be plotted yet.):

Ideodistributionandfate

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Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: The paramountcy of neoconservatism and Joe Lieberman

Re: Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: The paramountcy of neoconservatism and Joe Lieberman:

Over the last five years, neoconservatism has been the central force of American political life, and it has resulted in a fundamental ideological realignment. Far more important than one's views on traditional matters of political controversy is the extent to which one supports or opposes neoconservative theories.

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November 29, 2006

TomPaine.com - The Incredible Shrinking GOP

Re: TomPaine.com - The Incredible Shrinking GOP:

The election shrank the Republican Party, both geographically and ideologically. Their identity will continue to be defined by their most socially conservative, Southern members, who will oppose popular initiatives like increasing the minimum wage and fight unending battles on hot-button social issues in which they inevitably alienate large swaths of voters who call themselves “moderate” but think like progressives.

... Democrats now control not only the left, but the center as well. Yet they are being scolded with the same tired clichés they’ve heard before, that they need to move to the right in order to maintain a majority. They need to ignore the pleas from the David Broders and Joe Kleins of the world and keep in mind that in the recent election, voters repudiated conservatism itself. Even before the election, some conservatives were complaining that the Bush administration wasn’t really conservative at all. Yet with the exception of reducing the size of government, conservatives can’t claim that they didn’t get what they were after over the past six years. Republicans cut taxes, boosted defense and advanced conservative beliefs on social issues—and when they promised more of the same, voters said, no thanks.

....It is the Terri Schiavo Republicans that voters in the interior West, the Southwest—and indeed, everywhere but the Deep South—are turning away from. Their kind of politics hurts the GOP among nearly every voting bloc that will be key to success in upcoming elections. If the Democrats can succeed in furthering the GOP’s ideological and geographic isolation, they can send them into a vicious spiral of defeat, where they have to keep feeding their socially conservative, Southern base in order to avoid total annihilation, but their efforts to do so end up harming them in every other region of the country. That’s what it will take to make this victory last past the next election.

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November 20, 2006

Re: Watershed

[Submitted re: Watershed, 11/20/2006 in the Nation]

In “Watershed”, William Greider gives a great breakdown of the situation, opportunities and challenges ahead for Democrats, who were given a major political opening in the mid-terms.  But he reinforced that famous false choice of Democrats which cripples them when he wrote, “'message' should take a back seat to 'substance'.”

It isn't an either-or choice; Democrats must do both.  There's no point to winning if there isn't substance, but Democrats have not articulated their case well for years and years and it has hampered them badly.

Democrats need not only to have substantive policies that address the central concerns of American lives, but also must make their case for those better.  Democrats need to express a more shared, simple language that expresses our values and principles and draws contrasts with Republicanism ... taxes are civic investments, fair-market capitalism not free-market fundamentalism, responsible government not bigger or smaller government, open democracy not one-party rule, etc.

I would have expected more appreciation of the value of words from an author who uses them so well himself.  After all, the ringing words that open both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution still echo loudly exactly because they made their case so eloquently, and were not just, respectively, a litany of complaints and a set of organizing principles.

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November 19, 2006

Talking with Democracy for NYC

Re: Talking with Democracy for NYC:

The question now is: What comes next? Democrats will need to be bolder, less risk-averse, and speak to people in ways that are relevant to their lives.

(Some of that may mean redefining centrism so that it is not the centrism of Beltway pollsters and pundits. Americans, after all, talk about wanting to be governed from the center – but it's a different center –  one that deals with issues that are at the center of their lives. One that seeks a politics that speaks to and includes affordable childcare and health care, quality public education, retirement security, a living wage, environmental protection, clean elections and a principled – not a messianic – foreign policy.)

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Summary of Findings: Public Cheers Democratic Victory

Re: Summary of Findings: Public Cheers Democratic Victory:

By 51%-29%, more Americans want Democratic leaders ­ rather than President Bush ­ to take the lead in solving the nation's problems. Twelve years ago, the public was divided over whether GOP congressional leaders (43%), or President Clinton (39%), should take the lead in addressing national problems.
Bush's job rating stands at just 24% among political independents, who proved crucial to the Democrats' victory on Nov. 7. By 57%-39%, independent voters cast ballots for Democratic candidates, according to national exit polls.
The broad opposition to President Bush among independents is reflected in their strong preference that Democratic leaders, rather than the president, take the lead in solving the nation's problems.  By more that two-to-one (53%-25%), independents believe that Democratic leaders should take the lead on issues.

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