Wow. I did NOT see

Wow. I did NOT see this coming:

Some conservative groups expressed dismay Tuesday over President Bush’s tolerance of state-sanctioned civil unions between gay people — laws that would grant same-sex partners most or all the rights available to married couples.

“I don’t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that’s what a state chooses to do so,” Bush said in an interview aired Tuesday on ABC. Bush acknowledged that his position put him at odds with the Republican platform, which opposes civil unions.

“I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights,” said Bush, who has pressed for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. “States ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others.”

No, it’s not an outright endorsement of civil unions, but it’s very, very close. Referring to civil unions as “laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others” is major progress. I’ve never expected Bush to be a Kennedy on gay rights, but he appears to be close to becoming an Eisenhower.

Perhaps I’m just weird but

Perhaps I’m just weird but I don’t find this story particularly distressing:

Some 350 tons of high explosives (RDX and HMX) which were under IAEA seal while Saddam was in power, were looted during the early days of the US occupation. Like so much else, it was just left unguarded.

Not only are these super-high-yield explosives probably being used in many, if not most, of the various suicide and car bombings in Iraq, but these particular explosives are ones used in the triggering process for nuclear weapons.

In other words, it’s bad stuff.

What also emerges in the Nelson Report is that the Defense Department has been trying to keep this secret for some time. The DOD even went so far as to order the Iraqis not to inform the IAEA that the materials had gone missing. Informing the IAEA, of course, would lead to it becoming public knowledge in the United States.

Okay, okay, it’s bad that they covered it up. But it’s not that surprising. Anyway, it’s been known, at least off-the-record, for a number of months that hundreds of tons of ammunitions were just left in dumps, and not destroyed because of a lack of demolition experts. Stupid? Yes. Incompetent? Yes. But the fact is, it doesn’t really matter now. Those ammunitions can’t be destroyed now that they’re in insurgents’ hands, so it’s useless and counterproductive to argue about this. However, it appears that insurgents in Sadr City and Fallujah are finally coming under control:

Iraq’s plans to hold elections in January gained traction on Saturday after a Shi’ite militia agreed to disarm in Baghdad and delegates from rebel-held Falluja said the Sunni Muslim city wanted to vote in the polls.

The Mehdi Army militia led by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr agreed to hand over weapons to Iraqi police from Monday under a deal that could defuse the Baghdad flashpoint of Sadr City.

Falluja delegates said the city wanted to take part in the elections and could accept the return of Iraqi security forces.

“A delegation from Falluja is now discussing the entry of Iraqi National Guards to the city with the defense ministry,” chief Falluja negotiator Khaled al-Jumaili told Reuters.

Via Chrenkoff, in turn via Andrew Sullivan (wow, I’ve been linking to him a lot today). I’m not naive enough to be taken in by most “good news from Iraq” claims, but Chrenkoff’s post comes mostly from very credible sources, and is quite convincing. Sure, there’s a fair amount of “what about the schools?” rhetoric, but a lot of it’s very convincing. Even if you’re adamantly against the war, it’s worth a read.

Something is rotten in the

Something is rotten in the state of Hawai’i. First, two different polls find Bush leading Kerry in the solidly Democratic state. Now, a State Senate candidate from Maui has endorsed the death penalty for gays and lesbians. (via Andrew Sullivan)

What is going on? Hawai’i has only voted Republican twice – in 1972 and 1984 – but those were when the Republicans won all but one state! They even supported Dukakis, and Carter’s second term! How can they be on the verge of voting for Bush, the most conservative president in American history, and have a legitimate State Senate candidate supporting the execution of gays and lesbians (not to mention insisting that Noah was literally 650 when he built the ark)?

The answer to the second question is much easier than the first. Hawai’i has a history of being uneasy with homosexuality. After the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruled that banning gay marriage was unconstitutional in 1993, a constitutional amendment reversing the decision won, 69.4% to 28%, in 1998.

But the first story is very curious. Hawai’i, while conservative on gay rights issues, is very pro-choice, and fits the “tax-and-spend” label better than Massachusetts. My suspicion is that this is about Iraq. Hawai’i boasts one of the country’s largest military bases; after all, Honolulu was the first location attacked in WWII. The war in Iraq, and the war on terror, could have generated a good deal of hawkish sentiment, and prompted military families, and their friends and neighbors, to support Bush’s reelection. Is this what happened? I don’t know. But it’s my best guess.

I love the State Department.

I love the State Department. Or at least its spokesmen:

QUESTION: Did you hear that Castro fell?

MR. BOUCHER: We heard that Castro fell. There are, I think, various reports that he broke a leg, an arm, a foot, and other things, and I’d guess you’d have to check with the Cubans to find out what’s broken about Mr. Castro. We, obviously, have expressed our views about what’s broken in Cuba.

QUESTION: Do you wish him a speedy recovery?

MR. BOUCHER: No.

Via Andrew Sullivan. Castro certainly deserves it, and it was probably the funniest line said by a bureaucrat in history.

Suppose the New York Times

Suppose the New York Times published an editorial advocating the assassination of Tony Blair. There would be massive outrage, from the left and right. But when the Guardian publishes an editorial advocating the assassination of George Bush, there is nothing above a whisper:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?

Via Andrew Sullivan. The Labour party, which is loosely affiliated with the Guardian, has always been socialist. However, that socialism has usually been democratic. It seems it’s nearing Castro-esque militantism. This is disturbing, disgusting, and morally repugnant. While I’m Democrat here in the U.S., there is no doubt in my mind that I’d be a Tory in England.

*sigh* I pity Andrew Sullivan.

*sigh* I pity Andrew Sullivan. He has to deal with idiotic readers like this one:

our post concerning David Barton wrongly implies that the following views are extreme: 1) the separation of church and state is a myth, 2) America is a “Christian nation,” and 3) pastors are allowed to endorse candidates from the pulpit. The trouble is that none of these views are extreme; on the contrary, it would be hard to gainsay any one of them.
First, the Supreme Court’s decision in 1947 to apply the Establishment Clause against the states has been subjected to sustained scholarly criticism. No scholar disputes that the Establishment Clause originally protected each state’s right to establish a religion (many states in 18th and 19th centuries in fact had established churches). To incorporate the Establishment Clause into the Fourteenth Amendment therefore is incoherent, for it is impossible to protect against state infringement a right that belongs to states in the first place. The Harvard Law Review has written on this subject, as have other publications.
Second, America has always been and continues to be a Christian nation in the sense that most of its citizens are Christians. There is nothing extreme about making this rather banal observation.
Finally, not only are pastors allowed to endorse candidates from the pulpit, but their right to do so is protected by the First Amendment. To be sure, there is a question as to whether churches will lose their tax-exempt status if they endorse candidates, but the only reason that the tax code potentially denies churches the power to endorse candidates is that in 1950s Lyndon Johnson managed to usher a bill to that effect through Congress in order to punish some of his political opponents. It has nothing to do with “separation of church and state” at all.

1) The separation of church and state is a concept that has existed since the time of the founders. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and all the rest of the founders believed strongly in the need to prevent this nation, and its states, from having official religions, like Britain, the nation we fought for eight years, did. While the Establishment clause was not (and still isn’t) enforced as strictly as should have been before 1947, the founder’s intent, and the text of the amendment, have always been clear: no state religions can be tolerated.

2) We’re a “Christian nation” because most of us are Christian? Are we a female nation because most of us are female? Are we a Caucasian nation because most of us are Caucasian? Using this logic, we can discriminate against men, racial minorities, indeed, left-handed people, as they are not the majority. It’s eery how the fundamentalist Christian movement uses most of the same arguments as the racist “states rights” activists from the ’50s and ’60s.

3) Yes, Lyndon made the tax-status rule official, but any half-way decent interpretation of the Establishment clause would find that giving tax-exempt status to a religious organization, if it isn’t nonprofit and nonpartisan, is a endorsement of religion, pure and simple. There isn’t the defense of it being a non-profit organization; it’s a campaign organization, now that it has endorsed candidates, and raised money for them. It thus can’t be given the same exemptions that those organizations get.

Now this, this matters: The

Now this, this matters:

The head of Iran’s security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran’s best interests, despite the administration’s axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country’s nuclear ambitions.

Historically, Democrats have harmed Iran more than Republicans, said Hasan Rowhani, head of the Supreme National Security Council, Iran’s top security decision-making body.

“We haven’t seen anything good from Democrats,” Rowhani told state-run television in remarks that, for the first time in recent decades, saw Iran openly supporting one U.S. presidential candidate over another.

Though Iran generally does not publicly wade into U.S. presidential politics, it has a history of preferring Republicans over Democrats, who tend to press human rights issues.

“We do not desire to see Democrats take over,” Rowhani said when asked if Iran was supporting Democratic Sen. John Kerry against Bush.

It’s not an al-Qaeda endorsement, but it’s pretty close; after all, Iran sponsors not only al-Qaeda, but Hezbollah as well. So, the terrorists aren’t exactly sporting Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers on their saber-tooth tigers. If anything, they have Bush-Cheney bumper stickers.