Timing And the Midterm Elections

How’s this for timing? Saddam’s verdict to be read November 5–just in time for the midterm elections.

I wonder if this was originally scheduled for Bush’s benefit. I also wonder if, with public opposition to the war now so great, if this will backfire by reminding votes of what is going on in Iraq.

Posted in Iraq, Politics. Tags: . No Comments »

Atheists Uniting Against Religious Right

Most atheists are not very well organized, seeing little point in organizing based upon a common lack of belief in contrast to groups which organize due to common beliefs and goals. The attempts of the religious right to impose their fundamentalist Christian beliefs on others is now giving atheists a reason to organize. The Sun-Sentinal reports on increased organizing by atheists:

Horrified by escalating religious violence and alarmed by the Bush administration’s “faith-based initiatives,” which make government money available to religious organizations, atheists are coming out of the closet — and organizing.

“Local groups are springing up all over the place,” said Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists. Active groups have grown by about 90 percent over the past six years, she said.

In the past few years, groups affiliated with American Atheists have taken root in Berkeley, San Francisco, Davis, Calif., and Silicon Valley.

National membership in the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists and agnostics that monitors the separation of church and state, grew from 5,000 in 2004 to 6,400 members by the beginning of 2006, said co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor.

This organization may represent both a reaction to the religious right and an increased interest in atheism:

…atheism appears to be gaining ground also as a belief, not just a wave of political activism by those who fear the wall between church and state is being disassembled. Books challenging religion like Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins have been best-sellers on Amazon.com.

“Our primary conviction is that there is no supernatural world — there is only one world, the world that is the subject of scientific investigation,” Johnson said.

Two University of California at Berkeley sociology professors found that the proportion of Americans with no religion doubled from 1990 to 1998, but has leveled out at 14 percent.

The study “reflects a growing backlash against the role of organized religion,” said Claude S. Fischer, one of the authors. “People on the political left have reacted against the organization of churches on the right. Their statement is a reaction: `If that’s what religion means, then I’m not religious.'”

While the religious right gets the bulk of the attention, anti-scientific viewpoints which in their own way are as superstitious as those of the religious right expressed by new age advocates such as Deepak Chopra have also been the subject of criticism among many liberals.

TV Alert: The Lost Year in Iraq

The New York Times reviews a show to air tonight which sounds worth watching.  Frontline, which probably has the consistently best documentaries to appear on television, has a show on The Lost Year in Iraq:

Very few punches are pulled during this disturbing, eye-opening hour, written, produced and directed by Michael Kirk. And clearly Mr. Kirk and Jim Gilmore, who is credited with the reporting for the film, found no shortage of highly placed people who were willing, even eager, to talk about the disaster that many perceive American-occupied Iraq to have become since the spring of 2003, when President Bush declared victory there.

The film begins with the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein, a scene shown over and over on American television, and the portentous observation that “the Iraqis couldn’t pull it down themselves” because it was so heavy. So the American military helped.

“The Lost Year in Iraq” doesn’t bother going into a discussion about whether the war was a good idea to begin with. It moves right to Baghdad’s fall in April 2003 and the looting that began hours later and soon “verged on chaos,” as the narrator says.

“We were totally unprepared to secure the city,” says Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Jay Garner, the Army general (now retired) who was named director of the Iraq Reconstruction Group, adds, “There was no plan and no staff.”

Posted in Iraq, Television. Tags: , . No Comments »

Truth Squad on Third Granholm DeVos Debate

The Truth Squad exposes more DeVos distortions in the third debate. (Full transcript here.)

DeVos’ Debate Distortions: Correcting the Record

Governor Granholm did not cause Michigan’s economic problems.
Dick DeVos’ support for unfair trade and outsourcing caused them. Dick DeVos’ support for President Bush and unfair trade policies cause the pain our automakers, workers, and economy are feeling now, not Governor Granholm. Michigan lost 264,000 jobs during the last 2.5 years under Engler, and have actually gained 24,000 jobs under Governor Granholm. Michigan’s economic problems are a result of slow national economic growth under Bush; and more importantly, the slump in the U.S. auto industry and the fact that Michigan is far more dependent upon the auto industry than any other state, according to a recent report by the respected Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Governor Granholm is moving forward with the Michigan First Health Care plan.
The Governor’s team is currently in negotiations with the federal government to reach consensus about the plan’s financing and design to ensure that when the final waiver request is submitted, it will be acceptable to both the state and federal governments. These negotiations take time, but they are moving forward. In Massachusetts, it took nearly two years to negotiate the waiver they used to implement their new health care program. The Governor expects the program to start in April 2007. Dick DeVos, on the other hand, says the only way to get health care is to get a job. DeVos is leaving out thousands of people who are currently employed with out health care. (more…)

Granholm Gets Hat Trick: Wins Three of Three Debates

DeVos looked a little better in the third debate, but it wouldn’t take much to look better considering how poorly he did in the first two. While he managed to reduce his deer in headlights look, he could not change the fact that Granholm has ideas to improve the state while he has none.

Jennifer Granholm’s closing statement demonstrates why we should vote for her, and not Dick DeVoss:

“I’m somebody who has fought for you – for all citizens – and he is somebody who has stood on the other side of the things that I have fought for.

I fought to create jobs here and diversify our economy in Michigan. He’s elminated 1,400 jobs in Michigan when he was CEO of Amway.

I fought the policies of outsourcing and unfair trade of George Bush. He’s George Bush’s…one of their biggest backers and has supported those unfair trade policies that have hurt us.

I went to Asia to bring home 22 companies, 1,000 jobs and $200 million in investment. He went to Asia, and invested $200 million to create thousands of jobs there.

I’m somebody who strongly believes that a woman should have the right to choose. My opponent strongly believes that that right should be – that she would be criminalized – a criminal – if she chose that right even in the case of rape or incest.

I support embryonic stem cell research. He opposes it.

I support public education. He led the voucher movement to take money away from public education.

I’m somebody who believes in health care for all. His health care plan is “get a job.”

I’m somebody who believes…I will not gut public safety in order to fund business tax cuts. He incorporated his subsidiaries in Bermuda to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

There are vast differences, but I’m going to fight for YOU and for opportunity for all.

We may not all have gotten here on the same boat, but we’re in rocky seas…and we’re all in the same boat now. My opponent is an expert yachtsman. And, I believe that his philosophy – is each man for himself. But I am the captain of this ship of state…and I will bring us ALL into port. My philosophy is “all hands on deck.”

I ask for your vote on November 7.

The Truth Squad responds to DeVos’s distortions. Full debate transcript below the fold. (more…)