Gilded moment

Monday, June 20, 2005
At the Naval Academy George W. Bush said that one day the Iraq war will be seen as a golden moment in American history. Golden indeed: for war profiteers like Haliburton and Bechtel, and for the Saudi royal family and other petrocrats, who no longer had to compete with Iraqi oil.


Was I wrong?

In my May 5, 2005 post, I suggested the Democrats were too late for ’08….was I wrong?
Gov Mark Warner could be the man:

Kerry lost by 19 electoral votes…with a strong moderate southern democrat, Warner would take VA’s 13 votes (as long as George Allen can be kept off the GOP ticket) and surely he could pick up three more from either Iowa (7 votes) or New Mexico (5 votes)…all things being equal, its Warner’s election….if he can get to the general election! If the Democrats want to win, we can not nominate a northern (liberal or not) democrat! In addition, Warner is from the state executive branch and not the Federal legislative branch that has been a curse for politician’s since 1960.

Va. Governor Hires Former Gore Adviser
By BOB LEWIS, Associated Press Writer Fri Jun 10, 9:04 PM ET

RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Mark Warner is taking another step toward a possible presidential run by establishing a federal campaign committee and hiring a top political aide to
Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, two advisers said Friday.

Monica Dixon will begin working for the Democratic governor next month and will be paid through a federal leadership PAC Warner is setting up, said Mame Reiley of Alexandria, director of a state political action committee the governor controls.

Steve Jarding, a Harvard University political science professor who managed Warner’s 2001 campaign for governor, said Dixon will work part-time advising Warner on a possible run for the White House in 2008. Warner’s term as governor ends in January.

Warner, 50, has not said whether he will seek the Democratic nomination, but he has done little to quiet speculation about his future aspirations. He was in Iowa earlier this week to talk about high school education and prepare for a meeting later this year of the National Governors Association.

The Iowa caucuses are the traditional start of the presidential nominating process every four years. “I can honestly say, to quote my colleague from California, ‘I’ll be back,'” Warner said, a reference to the movie line often uttered by actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Warner was in New York on Friday and not immediately available for comment. A telephone message left for Dixon in Washington, D.C., was not immediately returned.

Corpus of Hate

“It is hard to make a revolution, it is harder to sustain it, even harder to win it —
but then, after you have won, then the real challenge begins.”

In the late 1890’s and early 1900’s, Karl Lueger, a proto-fascist in Hapsburg Austria, sought to become mayor of Vienna, a city known for its liberal cosmopolitanism. Lueger appealed to working class anxieties, resentment, and Catholic and xenophobic Anti-Judaism. The Austrian Emperor tried to prevent Lueger’s election several times, but popular opinion in support of Lueger was so strong that the Emperor himself had to concede. Once in office, Lueger supported his working class base with patronage, public works, and constant demonization and ridicule of the “wealthy Jews.”

An anecdote from the period tells that Lueger was once casually talking with a poor Jewish man. One of his supporters was agahst to see Lueger himself engaging with such a “devil”. Lueger stopped, stared at his supporter sharply, and declared, “I determine who’s a Jew.” While Lueger may have only taken his rhetoric somewhat seriously, many others truly did believe in his words about the “Jewish problem.” Adolf Hitler, who was living in Vienna at the time, is said to have been inspired by Lueger’s example. Through his promotion of a core base of supporters, the introduction of patronage and public works, and the constant demonization of the “Jewish problem,” Lueger achieved municipal power, and set a modern European precedent to achieve power through ridicule, demonization, and harassment of minority groups, in his case, Jews.

In the US, various politicians at different times in our history demonized people with darker skin, resulting in lynch mobs and legalized codes of segregation. Jews, people from Southern Europe and Ireland, and Catholics (North Providence itself was shrunk to its present size in 1879 when portions of the town with large Italian populations were “donated” to Providence to maintain Yankee purity) also faced harrassment. On the West Coast, Asians from China and Japan were harrassed, during WWII ultimately leading to the Japanese internment camps. During parts of the Cold War, people (many artists) with opinions or attitudes percieved as “soft on (or friendly to) communism” were ridiculed, labeled pinkos and traitors.

Sadly hate politics is global, often targeting immigrants and minorities. In post-colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, wealthy, white Europeans bemoaned threats from dangerous blacks,” and in Latin America, indigenous and darker skinned people have been harassed and excluded from power for centuries. Idi Amin’s regime in Uganda demonized Indians and Europeans living in the country, forcing them all into exile in the mid 1970s under the philosophy “Africa for Africans”. Amin’s policies forced thousands of college educated individuals out of the country, leading to a massive brain drain which Uganda still struggles with. When the Japanese Military during the Showa Period (1932-1945) expanded across the Pacific, Chinese and Fillipino people were treated brutally and reduced to near slave status, in the name of defending against Western imperialism. Mao’s Cultural Revolution resulted in the murder and harassment of millions of teachers, educators, professors, and religious in the name of “purity.” The former US supported Dominican dictator Trujillo (FDR once quipped, “He’s an S.O.B, but he’s our S.O.B.”) spoke of the need to cleanse the Dominican Republic of “corrupting” immigrants from Haiti. 20-30,000 Haitians, the majority of them poor immigrants, were murdered in 1937. More recently in Rwanda, tensions between the Tutsi and the Hutu tribes resulted in a massive genocide, dramatically portrayed in the film Hotel Rwanda. Europe or Asia, North America or South, Africa or the Caribbean, the politics of hate are sadly effective.

A truly liberal society, with equal opportunity, a bill of rights, a strong civic society, active groups and people determined to live in a free and just community, depends on constant vigilance against demonization of people within the community, turning those people into things. It has happened here, on our planet, in our countries, in our towns, many, many times. We
have seen the results, read the statistics of dead bodies, heard of people restricted from higher education, see the difference in treatment between the “superior” and “inferior” people. Constant vigilance and a continued insistence to stop the politics of hate are necessary on our part to prevent repeats of past history. Leftists and Rightists, Religious and secular, all human philosophies, beliefs and ideologies are subject to lurking demon of hate politics. If anything, if tragically, it is a constant reminder for this Catholic that the idea of the Fallen State of Humanity has an awful corpus of empirical evidence to support it. Yet, at the same time, these injustices are the result of human choices. Here’s hoping we start making some good ones.

Political Campaign for USSC?

What’s in a Name?
by Holly Bailey (reprinted from Newsweek, July 13th, Periscope)

June 13 issue – Ted Jackson is ready. The Kentucky Republican operative who designed and sold President George W. Bush’s official campaign gear in 2004 is already sketching out the bumper stickers, hats and T shirts that will advertise Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court—whoever that may be. Amid speculation that ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist may soon retire, Jackson and his company, the Spaulding Group, are laying the groundwork for what will be an unprecedented public campaign in favor of a high-court nominee. Following the model of Bush’s online campaign store, Jackson plans to sell yard signs, buttons and other items once exclusive to political campaigns and use them to promote Bush’s candidate to replace Rehnquist as chief justice. The only difference, Jackson says: instead of vote for or elect, signs will say confirm.

Could a Scalia for chief justice sign pop up in a yard near you? Jackson says there’s already been “considerable demand” for court items from customers who stocked up on Bush memorabilia in 2004. (He plans to sell the goods on the same site: “People are a lot more open with their politics than they used to be,” Jackson says. “In this case, they not only want to show their support for President Bush, but they also want to show their support for his agenda and his nominees.” While there is rampant speculation about potential candidates, Jackson says his group hasn’t drawn up any designs with certain individuals in mind—nor has he gotten any hints from his friends at the White House. Like everyone else, he’s waiting and wondering. “All we need is a name,” he says. “Once we have a name, we can turn around something within 48 hours.”


Mission Aviation Fellowship is an Evangelical airline, dedicated to “delivering missionaries and the Gospel to remote parts of the world.” It additionally provides a valuable transportation service to remote parts Haiti, allowing access for medical professionals and the like, and for that its owners are to be commended. However, I disagree with their argument that Haiti is “dedicated to Satan” due to Voodoo.

Haiti is on the Western half of the island first conquered by Columbus, and was ruled by the French for over two centuries until the Haitian Revolution, in 1800.On the eve of the Revolution, the colony consisted of 40,000 whites, 30,000 mulattos, and 400,000 black slaves, many scourged and beaten, or treated as concubines.

Voodoo is the result of the marriage of African tribals faiths to Catholic Christianity. Many slaves in Haiti learned Christianity from the Jesuits, who offered sanctuary to runaway slaves, and encouraged blacks to fully participate in Church life. “All are equal before God”, the Jesuits declared. For such “heresy,” the Jesuits were expelled.

The subsequent Slaveowner-controlled, “purified” Catholicism was callous in its treatment of slaves. Many began to merge their older African faiths with their newer Catholic Christianity—– easy because of shared ideas about humility before God, a pantheon of saints and spirits (the Haitian lwa), and respect for heritage. Practiced mostly in secret, and ritualistic, Voodoo is passed on from oungan (priest) to disciple, in each generation, a process open to women and men. Voodoo often has been persecuted by elite in Haitian society,though during the Duvalier regime (1956-1986), Voodoo priests loyal to the dictatorship were used to help control the population, much like Slaveowner Catholicism. The “Dark Voodoo” often seen in the movies is a small cult within Voodoo. It is to Voodooism what Satanism is to Christianity.

Many Voodooists firmly believe that Catholicism supplements their faith, and see no contradiction in acculturating the African and the Catholic traditions as one. Some Catholics do take issue with this amalgamation and at various points in Haitian history have acted as they deemed accordingly, including forbidding the speaking of Creole, the Haitian native language, in parochial schools, to restrict linguistic access to the traditions. Yet it is remarkably simplistic to ignore the historical context, and the genuine spiritual yearnings, which lead to the development of Voodoo. Regardless, do your own research, than decide whether this island nation, with a long history of internal struggle and outside exploitation, is married to Lucifer.

Personal Conscience over Ecclesiastical Authority

‘Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism.’

This is from a commentary by the future Pope. The commentary was on how the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on conscience was in the same line of thought as John Henry Newman. (Commentary on the Doctrine of Vatican II, vol v, p.134, edited by Herbert Vormgrimler)

Do you think he wishes he could take back those words? No, intellectually, he probably still believes it…he just is probably incapable of seeing the issue in the real world.

Underming the Courts

Brilliant. Let’s put a man on the United States Supreme Court who encourages violence toward federal judges. []

Senators Mentioned As Possible Justices
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 19 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – If there is a Supreme Court vacancy this summer, President Bush may look no farther than the Capitol for a member of Congress who can be confirmed quickly. Past presidents have done it, more than two dozen times.

While admittedly long shots, GOP Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas are being talked up by some conservatives as possible nominees for the high court.

Seen as most likely to step down is Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who at 80 is fighting cancer. Retirement also might be attractive option for Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, 75, and John Paul Stevens, 85.

Kyl is a stalwart pro-business conservative and a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Cornyn is a former Texas Supreme Court justice and state attorney general. Both men have been at the forefront in fighting Democratic filibusters against Bush’s federal appeals court nominees.

Like all potential Supreme Court nominees — most lists of would-be candidates have at least 10 judges, lawyers or lawmakers — the senators played down their chances.

“If I was on the president’s short list, I think I would have heard about it by now,” Kyl said with a laugh.

Cornyn said, “It’s flattering, but I like my current job and I’m not looking for another one.”

Twenty-six men who served in Congress — 10 only in the Senate, 12 only in the House and four in both chambers — later joined the Supreme Court. The revolving door has turned the other way only once: David Davis resigned from the court in 1877 to represent Illinois in the Senate as an independent.

Bush has looked to Congress when filling federal court vacancies.
He picked Rep. Christopher Cox
, R-Calif., for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Cox withdrew after California’s two Democratic senators opposed him. He is now awaiting confirmation to head the Securities and Exchange Commission

Outsiders agree that Kyl and Cornyn are less likely to be selected by Bush for a Supreme Court vacancy if Rehnquist is the first to retire.

“I would be very surprised to see a Republican senator nominated to replace Rehnquist,” said Sean Rushton of the conservative Committee for Justice. “It would make more sense to nominate a Republican senator like Cornyn to replace Sandra Day O’Connor or John Paul Stevens.”

The president would be expected to replace Rehnquist with a non-Washington conservative because senators know that pick will not change the court’s ideological balance, Rushton said. But if O’Connor or Stevens leaves, Bush could swing the court further to the right by picking either Kyl or Cornyn. Both senators are considered more conservative than O’Connor and Stevens.

They both also have the advantage of being members of “the club.” The Senate has never rejected one of its own for the high court. Senators have just emerged from a partisan deadlock over Bush’s picks for appeals courts. Choosing a conservative senator might be attractive because of “senatorial courtesy” — the idea that senators will not be overly harsh to one of their own during the confirmation process.

The downside is that, for a time, the Republicans’ 55-vote majority could shrink if Kyl is a nominee. Arizona’s Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, probably would appoint a Democrat to replace him until the 2006 election. Of course, senatorial courtesy is never a guarantee.
Cornyn, for example, might find himself having to explain comments he made after several violent attacks on judges this year. He said he wondered whether frustration against perceived political decisions by judges “builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in violence, certainly without any justification.” Critics said his comments could incite violence against judges and the remarks could come back to haunt Cornyn.

Several years ago, former GOP Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina tried his best to scuttle former Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun’ s nomination as ambassador to New Zealand, until Republican leaders made it clear they would not let him.

Former Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., had a hard time getting past Democratic senators to become Bush’s first attorney general. The Senate voted to confirm him 58-42, the narrowest margin ever for an attorney general.