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Tuesday, October 11, 2005



Why should the democrats say anything? Harry Reid already pre-approved her, and the religious right are busy eviscerating her and Bush.


I don't understand what you think the Dems have to gain by jumping up and down about her RIGHT NOW. Surely the last thing the Dems want is for her to be withdrawn before they have the opportunity to use the confirmation hearings to expose precisely how unqualified she is and how and why she was nominated.

If she's withdrawn now, the Administration just staunches the bleeding, and we end up with someone who is a SERIOUS (in two senses of the word) threat to the legal principles liberals value.

(though I continue to believe that the reversal of Roe would be the best possible thing for the Dems ... and that the Adminstration knows it and acts accordingly.)

Michael Balter

I suspect that the Democrats are not piping up because they hope that the internal divisions on the right will sink the Miers nomination without their help. In other words, the usual exercise in extreme passivity, never offering a strong alternative vision on any issue.


Comic sidebar:

"Axis of Evil" Bush speechwriter and National Review stalwart, David Frum, on Miers:

"In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met."


The AC has a great piece on Mr. Hitchens, http://www.amconmag.com/2005/2005_10_10/article3.html, "The Purest Neocon":

"What the mutual embrace of Hitchens and the neocons tells us is that Hitchens’s assessment of neoconservatism is essentially correct: the regnant force in American conservatism today is warmed-over Trotskyism, which views America merely as the embodiment of the ideology of global revolution. This is, admittedly, a depressing conclusion. But there is hope. Hitchens spent the first half of his ideological career riding a dying horse. He may have just started riding another one."

Abbas-Ali Abadani

Hitchens nowadays reminds me an awful lot of my own father, another former communist who has turned his back on his former beliefs -- but has maintained, indeed *fed* and intensified, what can only be described as a *religious* hatred for religion and religious people.

In Hitch's case the hatred is especially deep and venomous when it comes to Islam and Catholicism (even in its current, neutered and eviscerated post-Vatican II state).

As the piece that brutus links to above in TAC points out, in one of his recent Slate columns Hitch essentially said that John Roberts should not be on the court because... well, because he's a Catholic.

Bill Maher is another one of these folks who has a religious hatred for religion... especially Islam and Catholicism. (What's the connection here? Why do some folks harbor a particularly deep hatred for these two faiths, while at the same time ignoring or downplaying the growing numbers and influence of a US-based faith that, quite literally, sees nuclear war as the medium which will usher in the Second Coming and the Rapture?)

In any case, this week's episode of "Real Time" was gratifying in that both Andrew Sullivan and Ben Affleck took Maher to task for his anti-religious bullshit -- although it was also disappointing due to Salman Rushdie's extremely lame performance. (My god, man... note cards?!?!)


You've got guts, AAA - praising Ben Affleck and dissing Salman Rushdie. I've gotta catch that Maher show. Yeah, his (and Hitchens') anti-religious tirades tend to be a bit sophomoric and come across as fetish. But given the penchant for idiocy among fundamentalist folk, they'll never scrape the bottom of that barrel. I don't think Maher fails to tweak the yahoos of home-grown fundamentalism. The politically born-again neo-Hitchens finds himself in some embarrassing situations in this regard. He recently took Maher to task for making fun of Laura Bush. It struck me as a very odd moment for someone with his well-earned reputation for dispensing scorn.

Brian Siano

I'm bored with this "anti-religion is another religion" tack. It's facile, carries no insight, and generally detracts from anything in the conversation.

I bet there were posers in the 1850s who whined about those tiresome abolitionists and their "slavish anti-slavery."

Michael Turner

Just to make sure I don't start off on the wrong foot here: I do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I've kept my relationship with Jesus on a purely professional level. Furthermore, lest any salacious rumor-mill-grist doubts be entertained among my staff, whenever Jesus pops over for a consultation, I keep the door open, make sure my voice carries all the way out into the cubicle area, and fill what might otherwise be suspiciously long silences with throaty platitudes and Monday-morning quarterbacking, even when it's already Wednesday. (Somehow, my attempt to trade stock tips with him haven't gone over quite as well, but then again, you don't want your voice to carry when it comes to that kind of thing anyway.)

What I wanted to say was, being an evangelical isn't the same thing as being either a fundamentalist or a conservative. That's the way to bet, of course, if that's all you know about someone. But there are left-wing evangelicals and there are evangelicals who aren't fundamentalist.

I also wanted to say this: if someone wants to describe their relationship with Christ as personal, so what? Some people think we need God to be good. Some people don't. I have come to the conclusion that some people do need God to be good, and if their thinking of God as a friend makes them better, I'm all in favor of it. I'm in business, as a businessman, I have the bad habit of trusting people rather too much for my own good, and I can safely say that the last five people who cheated me when I trusted them didn't have any kind of God in their lives.

I don't want Miers the Mullah telling me what I can and cannot do, of course, but let's see what the hearings and the research into her background tell us about that. If she has a clear history of observing a separation of Church and State, she should be judged on her qualifications otherwise. They seem awful slim, and Bush has picked a weird fight that seems to expose his weaknesses and his increasingly isolation. My bet is that this nomination will be withdrawn, but we'll see soon enough, won't we?


MT - It's okay to keep Him on your dashboard, but inappropriate to rub Him for good luck.


Hitchen's anti-theism is indeed the one thread that ties together his grab-bag of shifting opinion and bloviation. Bit of a shame he doesn't train a little of that anti-theistic heat on Bush, who like Miers, sees guidance from upstairs as the essential qualification for any job. After all, Bush's insistence at looking into a man's (or gal's) heart instead of at their resume, has a bit to do with the culture of incompetence in this administration and the disaster it's wrought in Hitchen's holy war. Wonder why Hitchen's hasn't noticed.

By the way, I would have been kept off-pace only if Hitchens had not taken a swipe at the Dems following his attack on the administration. Failing to do so would be as inconceivable as Marc Cooper failing to reflexively excoriate the Dems at the end of one of his diatribes against Bush and Co.


Abbas-Ali Abadani -

You're right about Hitchens and Islam except when it comes to Israel. There he's chosen to hate Judaism more than Islam and to give the Israelis a much harder time (one of the few stances from the old days he hasn't yet surrendered). It's a bit tricky when you've got militants from two religions in the mix, but a man's gotta make a choice. Looking at it with a little nuance wouldn't be any fun.

roger merith

In his debate with Christopher Hitchens in New York, George Galloway lambasted the idea that the hijacked planes on 9/11 came out of "a clear blue sky," and he pointed to, in general terms, the US's blood-stained role in Middle Eastern affairs. Part of the crowd booed Galloway for that, and of course Hitchens berated him for his political incorrectness. While I'm not a big fan of Galloway's, and though he glossed over the contentious point he made, I wondered what the big fuss was about. A speaker less interested in performing for the crowd and cameras would stop right there and call Hitchens and those who booed on their protest. What are you objecting to? Do you honestly believe that there's zero connection between our arming and training these murderous lunatics and what happened on 9/11? Or that our decades of backing aggression and corruption in the region means nothing on this front? And why do you insist that merely raising these questions is out of bounds? What are you afraid of finding out? What are you trying to hide?

Back when Spike Lee's biopic "Malcolm X" was released, Hitchens took part in a DC-based panel discussion about the film and about the "real" Malcolm X. At one point, after mentioning Malcolm's censure by the media and the Nation of Islam for describing JFK's assassination as a case of the chickens coming home to roost, Hitchens said that he thought Malcolm's comment hit the analytical bull's eye -- that JFK got back what he put out, namely in the growing American involvement in Vietnam and the use of political assassination to ensure a pro-US regime in southern Vietnam. Bad imperial karma, if you will. Now, did this mean that Hitchens saw Lee Harvey Oswald (or the Mafia or the CIA or whoever killed JFK) as a freedom fighter? That the shots that blew open JFK's head were fired for a good cause? I never got that impression, nor would I advance such an argument. So why is it okay to notice chickens roosting in Dallas in 1963 but not in lower Manhattan on 9/11? And how does acknowledging the former make you a perceptive critic but acknowledging the latter makes you pro-jihadist?

richard lo cicero

Interesting how a thread on Miers ends up being yet another diatribe against Hitchens and a defense of same. Marc asks where the Democrats are. Remember what Napolean said? Something to the effect that when your enemy is busy trying to commit suicide don't get in his way. I think the hearings will be fascinating. And I don't think she'll get a pass from Biden, Schumer, Kennedy, or even Feinstein or Hillary. But its going to be really interesting to see what what Spector and Brownback will do. I think a lot of fundies are begionning to understand just how much of a ride they have been on. And that could have a real effect in 2006.

too many steves

What the Democrats have to gain by opposing Miers is the political high ground, as in: she is demonstrably unqualified and there is nary a shread of a paper trail to demonstrate her capacity to hold and execute such an important position in our government. Harry Reid, in his support of Miers, seems to be guilty of the same sort of cronyism that lead GWB to nominate her.

Michael "NTFFFF" Moore

From a National Journal article on the Republicans' problems:

"If the election were held tomorrow, we'd pick up dozens and dozens of seats," said Rep. David Price, D-N.C., who was a congressional scholar before he was first elected to the House in 1986. Added Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.: "The Republicans are in a free fall. We just need to get out of the way. There's no adult supervision in Washington."

Yeah, great thinking there, Cooper. Just "get out of the way", keep your mouths shut, and things will ease back into their natural pre-1994 state.

Where do I go to unregister as a Democrat?

richard, i don't think dennis perrin's exposure of the faulty reasoning of Hitchens is a diatribe, is it?

Mavis Beacon

I get the leave well enough alone argument, but it seems that while Democrats ought to be quiet now and let Republicans run around in a tizzy, they ought to seriously consider giving her the thumbs down. Everybody says she's not qualified, though I think the conservative definition of qualified would change if she had pages of writings arguing for the abolition of abortion and condemning gays - I don't remember hearing a lot of conservatives complaining that Clarence Thomas wasn't qualified. That said, she won't be a good justice and maybe if she's rejected the next one will be worse, maybe not. I say vote your hopes, not your fears and vote NAY.

Randy Paul

What Mavis Beacon and Richard Lo Cicero said.

I find it risible that Hitchens is upset at the choice of Miers. Who did he think Bush would choose? Someone from the 9th Circuit?

Randy, I think Perrrin's commentary is actually a good rebuttal of Hitchens' phony logic...The only thing one wonders is why Marc thinks such 'logic' is useful at all. What a nice gift Hitch gives us, support for bombing the sin out of Iraq *and* criticism of Harriet whats' her name...how liberal bigahim.


Hitch is spot-on here. The test is OK when it favors their side, yet unfair when posed from across the aisle. So pitifully predictable.


Well Michael Balter that's a cliched low blow. Democrats always offer alternatives even as multitudes claim they don't. But they sure son't register very well. Whose fault is that? The sender or the receiver?

Marc Cooper

Thanks RLC for TRYING to get people back on track. But I have to admit to a certain drak pleasure in reading the above. All of these great leftists ready to damn the Christian Right until Hitchens comes out and bashes them.. all of a sudden time to turn spiritual.

Thanks also to Briano Siano for debunking the asinine notion that atheism is another form of worship. Not in MY athetistic home, than you very much! Ridiculous. Religion of all sorts is a form of intellectual weakness. Some religious folks, most religious folks are good people in spite of this weakness... sometimes in the name of this weakness. But weakness it is. A long time loser for humanity and a direct impediment to human enlightenment, freedom and progress. Other than that.,...

Michael Turner

"Thanks also to Briano Siano for debunking the asinine notion that atheism is another form of worship."

Marc, you're putting words in Sano's mouth, and Sano was putting words in other people's mouths. One poster here has described Maher as being religiously anti-religion, and Abbas said that his father could only be described as having a religious hatred of religion. What they probably both should have written is "dogmatic" rather than "religious". In any case, neither described anti-theism or atheism -- they are different -- as a form of worship.

I don't know if there's a God. Neither do you. To recognize that you don't know doesn't make you an atheist, much less an anti-theist. It makes you an agnostic. To assert that there isn't a God is to be dogmatic. If in fact there is no God, well ... prove it to me, Mr. Rational! I'm open to any reasonable argument. I've been waiting all my life for an answer one way or another, but I don't expect one, because of the unfalsifiable nature of the usual proposition.

Being anti-theistic is another thing again. Marx's "opiate of the people" argument actually has its points. Maybe religion is just a distraction from the True Greater Good. But the fact remains, in places all around the world where some form of socialism has been made to work, whether it's welfare-state Finland or corporate city-state Singapore, people still suffer from tragedy when tragedy strikes, and from angst when tragedy is temporarily in abeyance. Even having the best of all possible Caesars to render unto still seems to leave our lives with a lot of room for improvement. If that improvement comes through religious belief for some, I see nothing wrong with it, I even see some benefits for me if it leads to more people treating me ethically -- as long as they aren't theologically rationalizing a limitation of my freedoms. That's the issue and we should stick to it.

You want a viable Left and you also want it to be anti-theistic? Good luck, in America. Better to try the other tack: Next time you go to the Democratic Convention, try wearing a button that says, "What would Jesus H. Christ do?" I can practically guarantee you that you'd be warmly welcomed by most Christians there, some of whom might even match the proper definition of "Evangelical", and most of whom will be just as angry about the things you're angry about. And while it may be a matter of faith for me, I think that, if there is a God, and moreover a Holy Trinity, the Jesus part of that Trinity would smile down upon you, and not hold it against you in the least that you were taking his middle initial in vain. Because you wouldn't be taking it in vain, would you?


Fundamentalists purposely co-opted the word “evangelical” to make themselves less threatening.

Evangelical has become code for fundamentalist.

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