Friday, November 10, 2006
Review of the News, November 10 (Expanded; Revised, 11/11)
Glory, Hallelujah – The Evangelicals Are Turning on the GOP
One reason for the GOP's much-deserved and badly overdue electoral beat-down on Tuesday is this: Evangelical Christians got religion, or at least acted on it when they went into the voting booths. Growing frustration over the mounting costs of the unjust war in Iraq played a significant role in the revolt, but several analysts point to the surfeit of GOP scandals as the critical reason for the exodus of the Evangelical vote.
“The Republicans lost a lot of Evangelical votes with the corruption issue, and rightly so,” observed Richard Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, in an interview with Salon. Revulsion was prompted not only by Mark Foley's predatory perversion and the cover-up of the same by House GOP leaders, but also by bribery scandals involving Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham, which underscored the arrogant venality of the entrenched Republican elite.
"The standard you see for voting is not as simple as [gauging] a politician's stance on same-sex marriage or abortion," continued Cizik. "Moses gave some good advice: Pick capable leaders who are God-fearing, trustworthy and hate dishonest gain. Oh, really? You mean to say that God cares about greed? Just look at Colossians 3:5. What is greed? The apostle Paul says greed is idolatry."
"If there were some Evangelicals who became disenchanted with Republicans over corruption, and it seems to be from the election results, it was well justified. Any kind of funny business promoted voter retribution," concluded Cizik. "And that's the way it should be."
Evangelical disaffection from the GOP resulted in a small but significant number of crossover votes, points out Janice Shaw Crouse of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women for America.
"Mothers and Married Men were decisive factors for the Republicans in 2000 and in 2004, but in the mid-term elections of 2006 they were as likely to vote Democratic as Republican," notes Dr. Crouse. "And ... evangelical support of Republican candidates dropped from 74 percent in 2004 to 69 percent in 2006."
The "slight ... but very significant changes from 2002 to 2006 ... spelled disaster for the GOP," she elaborates. "More Republicans voted for Democrats (9 percent), than Democrats voted for Republicans (6 percent). More conservatives voted for Democrats (21 percent), than liberals voted for Republicans (10 percent). Nearly 30 percent ... of White Evangelicals voted for Democrats, and 54 percent of those who attend church weekly voted for Democrats. Among voters who though that the scandals were `extremely important,' 53 percent voted for Democrats.”
The migration away from the GOP appears to have taken place among theologically conservative Evangelicals. Steven Waldman of BeliefNet describes an on-line poll survey conducted by the news service that received 770 responses from people who profess to accept Jesus as their “personal Lord and Savior” and belief that the Bible is the "inerrant word of God.”
“Even though this was a conservative group-only 28.8 percent described themselves as Democrats and only 13.8 percent said they were liberal-they showed signs of great dissatisfaction with the Republicans. 30 percent said they voted for fewer Republicans than they had in earlier elections, and a stunning 60.7 percent said that in recent years their views about Republicans had become less positive. (51.5 percent said their views on Democrats had grown more negative)."
The most encouraging data obtained by the BeliefNet survey suggests that a substantial group of Evangelicals have -- however tardily -- rejected fuhrerprinzip (the Leader Principle), which is being taught as a tenet of Christianity in many congregations: From this perspective, George Bush, as a professed Born-Again Christian, is "God's man," an anointed leader to be supported without qualification.
But as Waldman points out, "half (49.3 percent) of these evangelicals do not believe that President Bush's faith makes him a better President. 37.2 percent said it's had no effect at all and 12 percent reported that it's made him worse.”
The Deval Went Down to Boston
On Tuesday, Deval Patrick, who served as the chief "civil rights" prosecutor under Bill Clinton, was elected Governor of Massachusetts, the first black individual ever to win that position. Predictably, in his victory speech Patrick waxed Clintonian in describing himself as the embodiment of an historic triumph for social justice.
“This was not a victory just for me," declared Patrick. "This was not a victory just for Democrats. This was a victory for hope. And we won it the old-fashioned way - we earned it.”
Not one to minimize his historic significance, Patrick commented in a post-election press conference that his election would sigificantly embellish the state's image:
"It's a profound thing to be witness to, and a central part of, this historical moment. And I think if people around the country are looking at Massachusetts and thinking about Massachusetts differently than they have in the past, then good for us."
For those familiar with the 1992 federal assault on the Randy Weaver family in northern Idaho, Deval Patrick embodies something other than social justice -- something much closer to lethal government impunity.
Several people died during the needless and illegal attack on Weaver's family; the innocent victims were Weaver's 14-year-old son Samuel, and his 43-year-old wife Vicki, who was gunned down by FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi while she was holding an infant daughter.
Wanted for Murder: The last known photo of FBI assassin Lon Horiuchi
"In 1994," recounted Boston Herald reporter Kimberly Atkins, "Patrick ... who was then assistant attorney general, concluded there was insufficient basis to prosecute FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi for shooting and killing 43-year-old Vicki Weaver.... Patrick made the recommendation despite a report by a task force assembled by Patrick's boss, Attorney General Janet Reno, that found numerous problems with the FBI's handling of the standoff, and called the protocol used by the FBI's Hostage Rescue [Team] unconstitutional under the circumstances."
A 1995 inquiry by a Senate subcommittee headed by liberal Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania found "simply no justification" for the kill-shot taken by Horiuchi, which "missed the 10-month-old baby in her arms by less than two feet."
"Horiuchi should have known that as he fired blind through the cabin door, he was shooting into an area which could well have contained Vicki Weaver and her two younger daughters," observed the Senate subcommittee report.
This is to say that prior to being elected Governor of Massachusetts, Patrick's most notable achievement was his contribution to what has been called the Federal Government's "007 Standard" -- the assumption that federal law enforcement personnel who murder innocent people in the line of "duty" are protected from prosecution or civil liability through "Supremacy Clause immunity."
And, speaking of the subject of discretionary murder by the federal government ....
[UPDATE, November 11]
The following item was written in response to a posting on the JBS News Feed that left me astonished and horrified. Alan Scholl, the author of that item, has revised and clarified his comments, and done so -- to his considerable credit -- without removing the earlier version.
Here is Mr. Scholl's clarification:
Mea culpa. The preceding paragraph, as it was written in haste, amidst many other conflicting priorities, seems to contain a direct call for war with Iran. Though it says this at face value, it was never my intent to suggest this as an outcome to be desired. Obviously, some clarification is needed. What I meant to say is that the United States has a legitimate right to self-defense. If I had a chance to reword my original comments, they would be as follows: "However, in that spirit of minding our own business and declared neutrality, Congress should also remind Iran formally that if its government were to launch one of their weapons at American citizens, and in so doing start a war, then we would retaliate with enough force that we wouldn't expect them to attack us again." Stated another way, my intent was to say that "In the event that a foreign power (Iran, for instance) were to threaten to attack the nation and its citizens using nuclear weapons, it is within the right of the United States to remind the offending power that a defense in kind should be expected." This, for better or for worse, was the official defense posture of the United States vis-à-vis the Warsaw Pact nations during the Cold War. As a corollary to this, it is fervently to be desired that the U.S. Congress will make clear via its actions that our nation forswear foreign entanglements and seek a peaceful coexistence with all peoples and nations of goodwill.
I certainly share Mr. Scholl's hope that we can restore our national independence from foreign entanglements and develop peaceful and mutually beneficial relations with "all peoples and nations of goodwill." The asperity with which the item below was written reflects my considerable alarm over the fact that the current regime in Washington is actively trying to provoke a conflict with Iran, and has conspicuously left the "nuclear option" on the table.
Iran's government is one of the most repellent in the world, but it has actually been the more reasonable and conciliatory party in the escalating conflict with the United States. There's also the fact that it's not currently engaged in an aggressive military occupation of a country half-way around the globe; in fact, there's only one government presently engaged in adventurism of that type, and it isn't headquartered in Tehran, Moscow, or Beijing.
(Courtesy of the incomparable Scott Horton.)
Three years ago, Tehran offered to open diplomatic relations with Washington and hold full and open discussions about all issues of concern between the two governments - including terrorism, regional conflicts, nuclear and over unconventional weapons. the Bush regime batted away that overture by sniffily insisting that it wouldn't deign to recognize the legitimacy of the Iranian regime.
While I have no brief for the oligarchy ruling Iran, it seems clear to me that the real danger to world peace is not Tehran, but Washington -- and that while the potential threat to our liberties posed by Iran is infinitesimal, the threat posed by Washington is monumental, and growing. Foreign enemies-of-the-month come and go, but the address of the real enemy to our freedoms never changes.
A Surprising Endorsement of Nuclear Genocide
“Americans, through their representatives in Congress, can send an unmistakably clear message to the Iranian government that we will mind our own business from now on," opines a right-wing commentator. "However, if the Iranians so much as threaten to launch one of their weapons at American citizens, anywhere in the world, or harm one of them, then we will consider that an act of war. As a result, we will unload several hundred nuclear missiles on their country, leaving nothing but a vast crater behind in that part of the world.”
Note well that under this standard, nuclear incineration of Iran -- which would involve the annihilation of scores of millions of civilians -- would be "justified" as a pre-emptive measure. The missiles would fly if the Iranian government "so much as threaten[s]" to "harm" any American citizen anywhere.
Note as well that while citizens are urged to pressure their Representatives to issue the threat of pre-emptive nuclear war, no mention is made of requiring Congress to declare war before unleashing thermonuclear hell in the Persian Gulf.
And no effort is made to reconcile this recommendation with the Christian Just War doctrine, which dictates that war can be waged only when 1) it is declared by the proper authority; 2) it is a proportionate response to a legitimate injury or a rationally perceived threat, and 3) would result in less damage than a refusal to resort to arms.
The Just War doctrine also contains the principle of "discrimination," under which it is impermissible to kill innocent noncombatants deliberately.
As Dr. Charles Rice, a professor of law at Notre Dame University, explains: “Proportionality relates not only to the war itself (i.e., the whole enterprise must be for a proportionate good), but also to the use of particular tactics or weapons....” Under the principle of “discrimination,” he elaborates, “it can never be justified intentionally to kill innocent noncombatants"; however, "it could be morally justified to attack a military target of sufficient importance and urgency even though the attacker knows, but does not intend, that innocent civilians in the vicinity will be killed.”
Obviously, an attack that would leave "nothing but a vast crater" where a nation of nearly 70 million souls once existed would fall dramatically short of the standard imposed by the Christian principle of proportionality.
Furthermore, the prescription for pre-emptive nuclear genocide quoted above falls short even of traditional Islamic standards for Jihad, which -- until quite recently -- called for discriminating between combatants and non-combatants, and forbade the use of indiscriminate weapons that could kill women, children, and invalids.
That genocidal prescription, however, is entirely in harmony with the post-Christian doctrine of collective responsibility in warfare that was introduced by the Jacobins during the French Revolution, refined by the murderous assaults on Confederate populations by Sherman and Sheridan, expanded during the first World War, codified by Lenin's Communist regime, and reached its perfection under Germany's National Socialists and the Cambodian Khmer Rouge - and that informs the contemporary neo-"conservatives" in their campaign to "liberate" the world through mass bloodshed.
Given this pedigree, it's astonishing to learn that the author of that prescription for genocide was -- a name that's probably become familiar to readers of this blog -- Alan Scholl, director of mission and campaigns for the John Birch Society, the individual who defines that estimable organization's ideological priorities.
This appears to be another of those "ride the wave" proposals -- or maybe it's better described as a "joining the torchlight parade" or a "get to the stadium early to snag a good seat at the Nuremberg Rally" deal.
That description, I hasten to specify, applies only to Alan, not to the worthy and decent people who constitute the Birch Society's rank and file, who are much more sensible and principled than the man setting the organization's agenda.
Whatever this is, it certainly isn't the "Americanism" promoted by JBS founder Robert Welch, who was vehemently opposed to the modern Warfare State.
"Mr. Welch was a magnificent guy, and much sounder on war than the present bunch [at the helm of the organization]," opines a former JBS Headquarters staffer who worked with Robert Welch in the mid-1960s.
Robert Gates: Osama's Patron
I noted previously that Robert Gates, as a high-ranking CIA official during the 1980s, played a hands-on role in Saddam Hussein's arms build-up.
As it turns out, Gates was also instrumental in creating al-Qaeda, funding Osama bin Laden, and cultivating the Pakistani ISI -- the rogue intelligence agency of a nuclear-armed Muslim state that may fall under the control of Taliban-style nihilists.
"Robert Gates made Osama Bin Laden what he is today," comments blogger "London Yank" at Daily Kos. "This is not exaggeration. By funding Osama Bin Laden's operations, training camps, weaponry and political influence from 1979 (even before Russia invaded Afghanistan), Robert Gates personally gave us our principal enemy in the `War on Terror.' More frighteningly, all of Robert Gates' support to Osama Bin Laden ran through Pakistan's ISI. ISI has been linked to training and funding the 9/11 bombers, the London bombers, the Madrid bombers, the Bali bombers and the Delhi bombers but is strangely immune from official Washington scrutiny."
"I really wonder which side Robert Gates thinks he's on," asks London Yank. "With a 30 year history of pomoting and financing state and non-state terrorism, I doubt it is the side of the peace and prosperity of the American people and bringing our troops home safe."
Happy Birthday, Martin Luther (b. 1483).
at 7:51 AM