Political MoJo

What Part of "Outrages Upon Personal Dignity" Don't They Understand?

| Wed Aug. 9, 2006 4:42 AM EDT

In the "international law is what we damn well say it is" department, the Bush administration is proposing a bill to revise the War Crimes Act, the law that essentially binds the U.S. to the Geneva Conventions. Apparently, reports the Washington Post, the administration is concerned with excessive vagueness in the Conventions' language (crafted, lest we forget, essentially by American negotiators), particularly the part about forbidding "outrages upon personal dignity." Because, you see, this administration is all about appreciating cultural differences:

"I mean, what is degrading in one society may not be degrading in another, or may be degrading in one religion, not in another religion," [Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon] England said.

Midnight Express, anyone? How long till we hear that exact same language out of a spokesman for some government, somewhere, to explain what's being done to some hapless American tourist (or CIA officer, for that matter) who's ended up in a bad, bad jail?

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"Antiwar, Anti-Bush, Anti-Establishment, Anti-Washington Message is Very Effective."

| Wed Aug. 9, 2006 2:09 AM EDT

Not that anyone should make too much of this, but that quote (from an analyst from the non-partisan Cook Political Report) is the take away from this Washington Post article.

Among the notable moments in the piece is the explanation of why Democrat Cynthia "tennis shoes" McKinney lost tonight. After 9/11, she suggested that Bush might have had prior knowledge of the attacks. Which is just sheer lunacy. As a result of this and other "missteps" she lost the 2002 Democratic primary to another black candidate (who then ran for Senate, effectively handing the House seat back to McKinney). State Rep. Billy McKinney spelled out the reason for his daughter's political troubles that election night: "J-E-W-S."

Ouch. Note to all Georgia pols. Keep the family members on a short leash. Remember Billy.

Relax, Celebrate Victory: Sad But True Lamont v. Lieberman Headlines

| Wed Aug. 9, 2006 1:14 AM EDT

Fourth Generation Harvard Grad Lamont Takes On Lieberman
From the Harvard Crimson (where else) and, as I write, headlining Google News. Makes you wonder if Joe had a point in his "who's this rich boy stealing my Joementum" diatribe.

Connecticut Primary Almost Exciting; Lieberman Still Boring
That from something called the Bostonist, whose server is down—perhaps because of the traffic generated by that headline.

Still, too true.

Joe Lieberman, Independent

| Wed Aug. 9, 2006 1:08 AM EDT

It sure didn't take Joe Lieberman long to trot out his new image as an independent. In his "concession speech," he accused Lamont of being guilty of "the same old partisan politics that have paralyzed Washington for years."

To which we say: !?!?!!!

Let's hope Clinton (either) can pull off the "for the good of the party/here's a plump ambassadorship" move and get JoeEgo to take a graceful bow and exit the state. I say that, though there is something kind of appealing about watching Joe and Ned slug it out in Round Two.

Lamont Wins Over Lieberman

| Wed Aug. 9, 2006 12:13 AM EDT

The New York Times reports:

Ned Lamont, a Connecticut millionaire whose candidacy for the United States Senate soared from nowhere on a fierce antiwar message, won a narrow but decisive victory tonight over the storied incumbent, Joseph I. Lieberman, in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Lieberman conceded shortly after 11 p.m. after nearly complete results showed him trailing Mr. Lamont by nearly 4 percentage points.

With 96 percent of Connecticut's precincts reporting, Mr. Lamont held 51.9 percent of the vote, with Mr. Lieberman holding 48.1 percent.

Christian Zionists continue to have clout with White House

| Tue Aug. 8, 2006 10:43 PM EDT

For some time now, Christian fundamentalists have served as Middle East consultants to the National Security Council. Most recently, the White House has met with a group called Christians United for Israel, whose members believe that supporing Israel's expansionist policies represents a "biblical imperative." Led by John Hagee, known for his televangelism, CUFI's members are interested in the U.S.'s adopting a more confrontational posture with Iran and in withdrawing all aid to Palestinians.

"The coming nuclear showdown with Iran is a certainty," says Hagee. A loyal friend of the Israeli right, Hagee has raised over $8 million for Israeli social service projects. His man in Washington is Sen. Arlen Specter's former chief of staff, David Brog, who helps carry out CUFI policy, handles public relations, and--though Jewish--represents Christian Zionist in meetings with White House staff.

One of Brog's more interesting theses is that Christian anti-Semitism no longer exists and "is a bygone phenomenon that died the moment the Allies seized Hitler's bunker." To support this belief, he emphasizes the outpouring of Christian evangelical support for Israel. At the same time, Brog has to carry the baggage of Hagee's outspoken belief that Israel will be the site of the Rapture. Only recently, Hagee ally Janet Parshall announced, when the Israel-Hezbollah conflict began, that "These are the times we've been waiting for. This is straight out of a Sunday School lesson." Somehow, the two men have developed a public relations balance in which Hagee and his people can go on about the Rapture and Brog can dismiss this talk as something like the ramblings of an ecccentric uncle, and concentrate on promoting the organization's total support for Israel.

The CUFI board of directors, by the way, is made up very well-known figures, including Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer and George Morrison (chairman of the board of Promise Keepers). Other CUFI personalities include Parshall, Rod Parsley, Ron Wexler, Joyce Meyer, and Benny Hinn. In addition to supporting Israel, all of these people are also opposed to feminism and gay rights, and any form of liberalism. Hagee is closely associated with Tom DeLay, Meyer came close to having her ministry investigated by the IRS, and Hinn has been accused of avoiding financial accountability for his faith-healing ministry. Another of their close colleagues, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, is closely associated with both DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

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Conyers Report on Presidential Power: Readers Respond

| Tue Aug. 8, 2006 7:25 PM EDT

Re: New Conyers Report on the Imperial Bush Presidency (link)

A reader writes in:

God Bless John Conyers!!!

Where are those in power who would take a stand and do the Right Thing, in their nation's hour of need? Unfortunately, it's become our lawmaker's political feeding time, turning a deaf ear and a blind eye in their hour of greed.

Another (one of several who seem to think WMD's were found in Iraq and an Al Qaeda connection to Saddam proved) writes:

Nice to see you guys aren't just blindly following Democrat talking points for stories.... Oh wait, you just ran your story based on Conyer's conspiracy theories.

If you had an interest in finding the truth about Saddam's al Qaeda links maybe you should just ask the captured al Qaeda members and Baathists...

Teens Who Listen to Raunchy Music Have More Sex

| Tue Aug. 8, 2006 5:40 PM EDT

As we all know, watching professional wrestling makes teenagers more likely to fight, physically, on dates. Now comes word (via Web MD) that listening to raunchy music makes them more likely to have sex. Or, more specifically, music with degrading lyrics (defined as lyrics describing males as "insatiable studs" and women as "sex objects") makes them want to have sex. Oddly, the study, by RAND, found no correlation between listening to non-degrading sexual lyrics and sexual behavior. Something doesn't seem quite right about that...

Lieberman-Lamont: Early Problems with Voting

| Tue Aug. 8, 2006 3:08 PM EDT

WTNH in Connecticut reports:

A dozen voters waited in line at the Davis Street School in New Haven this morning ready to cast their ballot in the state primary. But the machines were locked.

"If they don't do it in thirty seconds Mr. DeStefano may lose a vote," voter Kelly Garner said.

Though polls open at 6:00 a.m. sharp, Davis Street didn't open until 6:35.

"I found no voting booths open," said Dr. Herbert Sacks. "That's the first time in thirty years that anything like this has happened."

Story here.

The idea that Israel's Lebanon offensive had "nothing to do with Hezbollah" is "nothing short of demented."

| Tue Aug. 8, 2006 2:39 PM EDT

In response to an interview with frequent MJ contributor Robert Dreyfuss on Mother Jones Radio, a listener/reader writes:

To the Editors of Mother Jones:

I was in the past an occasional reader of Mother Jones and have recently re-engaged with the magazine through your podcasts, which, up until recently, I have quite enjoyed. This changed when I heard the July 30, 2006 interview with Robert Dreyfuss, which was truly shocking. My impression was that Mother Jones had embraced a moderate leftist political stance, but Mr. Dreyfuss' hateful diatribe against Israeli and U.S. policy was anything but moderate, anything but reasoned. [Rather, it was] the rant of an ill-tempered ideologue.

I think the crux of the matter was reached when Mr. Dreyfuss claimed that Israel's attack in Lebanon had "nothing to do with Hezbollah" and "nothing to do with Syria", but was only an attempt to drag the U.S. into conflict with Iran. Mr. Dreyfuss seems driven by a theological hatred of the Bush administration, and while it is unlikely that Mr. Dreyfuss despises Bush et al. more than I do, that is not an excuse for the public articulation of unsupported, near rabid attacks on his political enemies, in which clearly Israel has equal footing [with] the Bush administration.

The fact that Hezbollah has been attacking Israel for years on a small scale, dictating the terms of the conflict, killing people here and there, while supporting Hamas and engaging in various terrorist excursions is not in dispute. Many critics would advocate a "measured response". That is, when Hezbollah sends over a few rockets, injures or kills the odd Israeli, Israel should be expected to do no more than respond in kind. In other words, Hezbollah gets to set the terms and the timetable of the conflict, justify[ing] its belligerent existence to Lebanon in a never-ending conflict with Israel, while giving courage and leadership to those who would attack Israeli and Jewish targets around the world. The fact that Iran trained and largely armed Hezbollah is also not in dispute. So that when Israel, or more or less anyone, says that Hezbollah is an arm of Iranian foreign policy, it does not follow that Israel's desire to wipe out this incessant threat on its border is a ruse intended to steer the U.S. toward confrontation with Iran.

Whatever you might think of the Israeli offensive in Lebanon, the idea that it had nothing to do with Hezbollah is nothing short of demented. For Mr. Dreyfuss to portray Israel as the bully of the Middle East, leading the U.S around on a leash, while he expresses sympathy for the "poor" (Mr. Dreyfuss' word) Syrians is utterly repellant and entirely immoral. It is true, as he says, that Syria does not want a war with Israel, but this does not stop them from funneling, along with (and largely from) Iran, huge quantities of state-of-the-art weaponry to Hezbollah in order to conduct a proxy war.

One final note: in the absence of substantiating claims for his wild theories, Mr. Dreyfuss in the July 30th interview repeatedly justified his views by saying the "whole word" shares his views of Israel and the U.S. Apart from that not actually being an argument of any kind, the whole world he refers to is overrepresented by Muslim countries who constitute a billion people, and who in most cases have been steeped in long-term propagandist hate-mongering against Israel. Many in Western Europe also share Mr. Dreyfuss' anti-Israeli feelings, but between the ever-growing acceptance of anti-Semitism in Western Europe (presumably, hopefully, not an issue for a man named Dreyfuss), and the large representation of Muslim populations in Western European protests, Mr. Dreyfuss has put himself in some very distasteful company indeed.

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