Monday, November 27, 2006
Review of the News, November 27
It's time to play Name That Dictatorship!
“Except for a brief period in the early 1980s, the country has been ruled under `emergency laws' since 1967 – laws that consolidate power in the president and which authorize [law enforcement and intelligence] authorities to detain suspects for long periods of time without trial, refer civilians to unconventional `State Security Emergency Courts,' censor media in the name of national security, and prohibit unauthorized political activities.”
If you guessed the Bu'ushist Republic of Amerika, you're close, but wrong. All of those measures have been implemented, in whole or in part, in the USA since 2001, so the time-line described above is a little off.
The winning dictatorship, incidentally, is considered a “democracy,” and is a leading beneficiary of the form of systematized plunder called “foreign aid.”
The correct answer, and source, will be given below.
From the “you read it here first” department:
“With the current crop of 2008 Republican presidential contenders devoid of a conspicuous conservative favorite, Romney (who is not a conservative; he only plays one on TV) is, for all intents and purposes, the default favorite of the Christian Right – assuming that Gregory Johnson, Richard Mouw, and others of their persuasion succeed in neutralizing Evangelical concerns about Mormonism.
And I venture this prediction: If the Republicans lose control of the House on November 7, Romney will be the 2008 Republican nominee. Christian Right leaders accustomed to a “seat at the table” of political power will wrestle with their collective conscience, and win.”
Pro Libertate, October 22
“In late October, Romney and his wife Ann, balancing lunch trays on their laps in the den of their Belmont, Mass., home, met with about 15 evangelical leaders from as far away as Alaska, including Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham and Southern Baptist leader Richard Land. The three-hour meeting was set up by Mark DeMoss, a p.r. consultant who specializes in Evangelicals.... Romney advisers are debating whether he will need to give a big speech in the tradition of John F. Kennedy, who told Protestant church leaders in Houston 46 years ago that he was `not the Catholic candidate for President' but instead was `the Democratic Party's candidate for President, who happens also to be Catholic.' After the G.O.P.'s defeat in the midterms, that may be a speech Republicans are prepared to hear. A big tent, even one stretching all the way to Salt Lake City, could be what gets them back into power in Washington two years from now.”
Time magazine, November 26 (from the December 4 edition)
“The doctrinal differences that separate Mormon beliefs from mainline Christianity are as numerous and as significant as those dividing Dar al-Islam from the Christian world. In some ways Mormonism is closer kindred to Islam than it is to conventional Christianity.
Pro Libertate, September 26
“[Mormon] church officials are wary of the impact Romney's candidacy could have on them--and on the portrayal of their faith. Yes, his campaign will bring attention and credibility to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), as the Mormons are formally known, and give them a chance to demystify their theology and customs. But church officials also calculate that Romney's bid to succeed George W. Bush could remind some mainstream Christians just how different Mormonism is from their faith and perhaps expose their flock to more of the sort of discrimination that drove their founders west by handcart and covered wagon into the Great Salt Lake Valley. Although Mormons are known for family centeredness, hard work and clean living, many Americans remain suspicious of them, maybe because so many aspects of their faith remain mysterious. A poll conducted in June by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg found that 35% of registered voters said they would not consider voting for a Mormon for President. Only Islam would be a more damaging faith for a candidate, the poll found.”
Time, op. cit.
To win the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney has to carry off a multi-layered masquerade. First, he has to disguise – or at least mis-direct attention from – his religious commitments and convictions, in order to be palatable to the Christian Right; secondly, he has to perform the same feat with respect to his political record, which until very recently was that of a liberal Republican.
To do the first, Romney has to hope for more coverage of the sort Time magazine gives him in the current issue, in which principled disagreement over religious beliefs is seen as either “persecution” or an overture to the same.
In pursuit of the second objective, Romney has cast himself as a defeated but heroic champion of traditional marriage. To do this, he has done nothing of substance to oppose homosexual “marriage” in Massachusetts. By losing on the issue, Romney has cast himself in a role that will make him palatable to social conservatives. In fact, raising the specter of homosexual marriage permits Mitt to change the subject from the historic practice of Mormon polygamy (which was defended by 19th Century Mormon leaders in terms oddly similar to those used by advocates of homosexual “marriage” today).
As the homosexual activist publication Bay Windows points out, before Romney began re-branding himself as the Christian Right's preferred presidential choice, he was on very congenial terms with the Lavender Lobby.
During his 1994 Senate campaign, Romney wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Log Cabin Club in which he promised to support efforts to :establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens” and actually claimed that he would “provide more effective leadership than my opponent” in that cause.
Romney's opponent, of course, was Ted Kennedy.
“During his 2001 run for governor, [Romney's] campaign distributed bright pink flyers at the June Pride parade declaring `Mitt and Kerry' [his wife] wish you a great Pride weekend!'” recalls Susan Ryan-Vollmar of Bay Windows. “During his inaugural speech, he said it was important to defend civil rights `regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or race.' He appointed eight openly gay and lesbian people to high profile positions in his administration. And before he decided to run for president – that s to say, before he needed to establish some strong anti-gay bonafides – Romney doubled the budget line item for the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. This would be the same commission, mind you, that Romney tried to disband in a highly public fashion last May.”
He didn't “succeed” in disbanding that Commission, of course – which means, in terms of his chosen strategy, that Romney succeeded brilliantly.
Ryan-Vollmar points out that Romney has profited handsomely from “failures” of this sort:
“If I were a member of the VoteOnMarriage.org coalition or a signer of the anti-gay marriage petition ... I'd be furious with Gov. Mitt Romney today,” she writes. “I'd be wondering where he's been the last two years on the marriage issue. Imagine if Romney had held a rally on the State House steps before the Nov. 9 constitutional convention (ConCon) and thousands of people had shown up to loudly demand that lawmakers take a vote on the marriage amendment. Romney might have changed the outcome of the ConCon” -- which ended without passing that amendment, despite the fact that the pro-traditional marriage side could have won if “the governor had actually been working with them.”
“In the last two years,” continues Ryan-Vollmar, “Romney has spouted some over-the-top rhetoric about civil marriage rights for same-sex couples,” depicting the “same-sex marriage” movement as an effort to redefine marriage out of existence (which, in fact, it is). “You would think that a man genuinely fearful for the health of marriage, a man who was actually in a position to do something about it, would do everything in his power to `defend' marriage,” writes Ryan-Vollmar, whose observation is correct despite her use of mocking quotation marks. “Think again. The only thing motivating this governor is personal ambition. The likely reason for his failure to hold a raucous rally prior to the Nov. 9 ConCon was is calculation that he had absolutely nothing to gain from it. What if he held the rally and the measure died anyway? Too risky. So Romney waited and held his made-for-TV-ad spectacular long after it could have any impact whatsoever on the actual debate.”
The Wreath and the Wrath
The Peace Symbol, has been disparaged by some as the “footprint of the great American chicken,” and condemned by others as a pagan icon connoting anti-Christian and anti-Jewish sentiments. It is certainly not among my favorite symbols. Were it displayed in my neighborhood, however, I could probably contain my disapproval.
The same can't be said of a handful of people who belong to the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Owing to the complaints of “three or four” residents of a 200-home subdivision, Lisa Jensen, a former Association president, faces fines of $25 a day for displaying a Christmas wreath in the shape of a Peace Symbol.
Some residents whose sons have been dispatched to Iraq contend that the wreath “is an anti-Iraq war protest,” reports current Association president Bob Kearns (who really needs to grow some dangling anatomy). Other describe it as “a symbol of Satan.”
“Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq,” Kearns told the AP. “If you let one go up then you have to let them all go up.”
If that subdivision is anything like most found in the Western US, it probably suffers from no shortage of jingoistic displays, and a near absence of anti-war symbols. Seeking to spare residents of the neighborhood from exposure to something that might provoke a moment of unregulated, independent thought, Kearns has sent a letter to Association members stating that the board “will not allow signs, flags etc. that can be considered divisive.”
This was done, once again, on the strength of “three or four” complaints.
Mrs. Jensen, to her credit, isn't backing down.
“Now that it has come to this I feel I can't get bullied,” she told the AP. “What if they don't like my Santa Claus.” She calculates that the fines would eventually exceed $1,000, and she has no intention of paying them.
It's to be hoped that this dispute doesn't end up in court, which it will unless Jensen's detractors suffer a sudden fit of maturity.
Incidentally, Jensen's wreath doesn't say anything about the war in Iraq.
And for what it's worth, the Peace Dove would be a more suitable symbol, in my view.
And now, the answers:
The winning dictatorship is: The Arab Republic of Egypt, where – according to the US State Department -- “torture and abuse of detainees by police, security personnel, and prison guards remained common and persistent.... Principal methods of torture reportedly employed by the police and the SSIS included stripping and blindfolding victims; suspending victims from a ceiling or doorframe with feet just touching the floor; beating victims with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; using electrical shocks; and dousing victims with cold water. Victims frequently reported being subjected to threats and forced to sign blank papers for use against themselves or their families should they in the future complain about the torture. Some victims, including male and female detainees and children, reported sexual assaults or threats of rape against themselves or family members.”
Sounds like a pretty rough place, doesn't it? This is why Egypt is one of several foreign subcontractors who offer hands-on service in detaining and torturing individuals subject to “extraordinary rendition” by the Bush Regime.
The source: Torture Taxi: On The Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights by Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson, page 68.
at 9:29 AM