Oh dear God: Nipping at

Oh dear God:

Nipping at the heels of Halo 2, Mel Gibson’s The Passion, scheduled for release on PS2 this summer, expects to bring equally long lines to the malls. “If Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ has given us any indication of the robust nature of the evangelical entertainment platform,” Gage estimates, “then his video game will certainly be a predictor of its market share in days to come.”

From Andrew Sullivan, who asks exactly the right question: “Does Jesus try to get away or something?” All I know is that I either need screenshots, and now, or else I’m buying this and finding out. Seriously.

Is it just me, or

Is it just me, or is this whole “groundhog day” meme more than a little silly? First of all, the only remotely feasible way to invade Iran (and, yes, the administration knows this) would be to order universal conscription (read: draft), which Rumsfeld has made clear he thinks is detrimental and ineffective. An invasion is thus out of the question.

With that behind us, can’t we all agree that an invasion of Iran would have been more than justified following the invasion of Afghanistan? Here’s what we know:

  • Iran has produced plutonium and enriched uranium. Indeed, they’ve enriched uranium themselves, which isn’t necessary unless a nuclear weapon is being made.
  • Iran supports numerous Palestinian militant groups, including Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad.
  • Iran has a history of support for al-Qaeda, and is possibly sheltering Osama bin Laden himself.
  • I don’t think that we’ve had a better case for invasion since, well, Afghanistan. Indeed, Iran is quite possibly more dangerous than Afghanistan was. It has links with almost every jihadist terror group in the world, and is near to creating a nuclear weapon. Put two and two together, and you get New York (or Tel Aviv) in a mushroom cloud. If we hadn’t gone into Iraq, I would pushing for invasion.

    There’s a good article in

    There’s a good article in the New Republic on the already “second-tier” 2008 candidates. I had researched these folks starting on Nov. 3, and I basically agree with the article’s conclusions. But it did leave out an important possibility: Gov. Brad Henry [D-OK]. He’s a real Southern native (unlike Gov. Phil Bredesen [D-TN]):

    A third generation Oklahoman, he was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where he attended public schools and graduated from Shawnee High School. The governor attended the University of Oklahoma as a President’s Leadership Scholar and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1985. In 1988, Governor Henry was awarded his law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, where he served as managing editor of the Law Review.

    Oh, and notice that – he graduated in ’85. He’s only 41. Young, rural, southern governor…sound familiar? Now, Oklahoma isn’t as southern as, say, Mississippi. But it’s as close as Texas is, and Henry could thus help us in Arkansas and Tennessee, the two winnable states down south (not to mention Arizona and New Mexico). I’m not saying he doesn’t have drawbacks. His position on abortion is somewhat ambiguous, and he signed into law a bill banning gay adoptions (although a veto would have been overridden anyway, and would only have hurt him). But he’s certainly better than, *shudder*, Hillary. He could at the very least win.

    Even Kevin Drum is starting

    Even Kevin Drum is starting to fall a bit off the deep-end:

    Bernard Lewis is one of America’s most influential scholars of the Middle East. To the public, he became famous with the fortuitous publication a few weeks after 9/11 of What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response, but among Washington policymakers he became more than just famous — he became influential. Deeply influential. Michael Hirsh explains:

    Lewis’s basic premise, put forward in a series of articles, talks, and bestselling books, is that the West — what used to be known as Christendom — is now in the last stages of a centuries-old struggle for dominance and prestige with Islamic civilization.

    ….This way of thinking had the remarkable virtue of appealing powerfully to both the hard-power enthusiasts in the administration, principally Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, who came into office thinking that the soft Clinton years had made America an easy target and who yearned to send a post-9/11 message of strength; and to neoconservatives from the first Bush administration such as Paul Wolfowitz, who were looking for excuses to complete their unfinished business with Saddam from 1991 and saw 9/11 as the ultimate refutation of the “realist” response to the first Gulf War.

    ….Bernard Lewis was persona grata, delivering spine-stiffening lectures to Cheney over dinner in undisclosed locations. Abandoning his former scholarly caution, Lewis was among the earliest prominent voices after September 11 to press for a confrontation with Saddam, doing so in a series of op-ed pieces in The Wall Street Journal with titles like “A War of Resolve” and “Time for Toppling.” An official who sat in on some of the Lewis-Cheney discussions recalled, “His view was: ‘Get on with it. Don’t dither.’”

    But what was behind Lewis’ vision of “a secularized, Westernized Arab democracy that casts off the medieval shackles of Islam and enters modernity at last”? And is it right?

    Hirsh explains that too. Click here when you have a few spare minutes to read about it.

    Let me just start by issuing the following disclaimer: I admire Lewis greatly, and consider him the greatest academic of the 20th century, and quite possibly of the 21st. Consider yourself warned.

    I’ve read Hirsh’s piece, and it basically accepts without questioning the beliefs of Richard Bulliet, an anti-Lewis historian at Columbia University. Bulliet considers Islam to be the key to achieving democracy in the Middle East. Lewis considers it an impediment. Lewis is right. Bulliet is wrong. There has never been an Arab democracy; more on topic, there has never been a nonsecular Muslim democracy. Turkey and Indonesia are the only Muslim democracies on the planet; both are fiercely secular, in Turkey to the point of oppression. This is no coincidence. As Lewis pointed out in his groundbreaking essay, “The Roots of Muslim Rage”, there is a history of separating religion from government in Western society. The Bible says, “render … unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things which are God’s.” Muhammed, on the other hand, was more than a prophet. He was the founder of an empire. Islam has a history of religious, undemocratic rule. There is no history of the separation of mosque and state. Thus, once this foreign concept is accepted, as Atatürk made it be in Turkey, the other foreign concept of democracy will likely be accepted more easily. This was bad news for Atatürk’s dictatorship; it’s good news for U.S.’s efforts in the Middle East. Secularization is the only proven method of bringing democracy to the Middle East; thus, it is the only method that should be employed in doing so.

    Should the choice of Harry

    Should the choice of Harry Reid – a anti-choice Mormon – as Senate Minority Leader signal a change in Democratic social positions? If you had any doubts, don’t now:

    Then there’s Sen. Ben Nelson, who didn’t make the list of preferred Democratic contenders among 465 Democrats in the Gallup Poll. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, the former first lady, took top honors.

    That didn’t stop Nelson from issuing a neutral comment about a 2008 presidential bid Tuesday on his regular conference call with Nebraska reporters.

    Nelson was discussing the advantages that former governors – and he is one – have in running for president compared with lawmakers. A reporter asked: Should we expect a Nelson bid in 2008?

    “I wouldn’t take it off the table, but I’m certainly not making that announcement today,” Nelson said. “And I’ll tell you what, if I make that announcement, I’ll do it in Nebraska.”

    Who is Ben Nelson? Well

  • Voted YES on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime. (Mar 2004)

  • Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life. (Mar 2003)

  • Rated 7% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • And then there’s the fact that he was one of three Democrats in the Senate to vote for the Federal Marriage Amendment (the other two were mad-man Zell Miller and über-bigot Robert Byrd). Just look at this statement:

    I support the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. I fully support the concept of marriage as a sacred and solemn social institution. I support the Nebraska constitutional amendment on marriage and I support the Federal law defending marriage.

    This is a disgusting man. This is a despicable excuse for a human being. The fact that he is a Democrat, let alone the fact that he is considering running for president as a Democrat, is frightening, and disturbing. It reminds me of the days when the Democratic party was the party of Bull Connor and George Wallace. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the culture war is here. The battle plans are being drawn by the Republicans. But we refuse to recognize that there even is a war. And unless we realize this fact, and soon, we are in grave danger of losing the right to choose, the right to sexual privacy, the separation of church and state, and countless other rights and protections. Action must be taken. And it must be taken now.

    You know, I was thinking

    You know, I was thinking exactly this when I heard of Powell’s resignation:

    Republicans yesterday touted outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell as a possible challenger against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2006.

    “I think he would be an exciting choice . . . and I think he would have star quality,” said Stephen Minarik, who was tapped Monday to head the troubled state Republican Party.

    Minarik said he would seek to talk to Powell, a native New Yorker, about making the race once he leaves the State Department.

    Powell was first suggested as a potential Clinton challenger by Rep. Vito Fossella of Staten Island, who, like many in the New York GOP, is known to fear his party won’t have a strong candidate to field against her in 2006.

    “His roots and heart have always been in New York,” Fossella said of Powell, who was born in New York City and attended City College.

    “I think he’d make a great representative and I urge him strongly to consider running,” Fossella continued.

    The frightening thing is that he’d win. Seriously. He’s more pro-choice than Pataki, and if someone as right-wing on national security as Giuliani could get elected in NYC, a centrist like Powell certainly could as well. However, if he were to be nominated, I would fight tooth and bone for Hillary. His bigotry and homophobia are too great to be ignored (on the other hand, I would likely support Pataki or Giuliani against Hillary because of trade and Hillarycare).

    Least surprising news story of

    Least surprising news story of the day: Eugene Volokh misses the point entirely:

    I keep hearing evangelical Christian leaders criticized for “trying to impose their religious dogma on the legal system,” for instance by trying to change the law to ban abortion, or by trying to keep the law from allowing gay marriage. I’ve blogged about this before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again.

    I like to ask these critics: What do you think about the abolitionist movement of the 1800s? As I understand it, many — perhaps most or nearly all — of its members were deeply religious people, who were trying to impose their religious dogma of liberty on the legal system that at the time legally protected slavery.

    Or what do you think about the civil rights movement? The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., after all, was one of its main leaders, and he supported and defended civil rights legislation as a matter of God’s will, often in overtly religious terms. He too tried to impose his religious dogma on the legal system, which at the time allowed private discrimination, and in practice allowed governmental discrimination as well.

    Or how about religious opponents of the draft, opponents of the death penalty, supporters of labor unions, supporters of welfare programs, who were motivated by their religious beliefs — because deeply religious people’s moral beliefs are generally motivated by their religious beliefs — in trying to repeal the draft, abolish the death penalty, protect labor, or better the lot of the poor? Perhaps their actions were wrong on the merits; for instance, maybe some anti-poverty problems caused more problems than they solved, or wrongly took money from some to give to others. But would you condemn these people on the grounds that it was simply wrong for them to try to impose their religious beliefs on the legal system?

    My sense is that the critics of the Religious Right would very rarely levy the same charges at the Religious Left. Rather, they’d acknowledge that religious people are entitled to try to enact their moral views (which stem from their religious views) into law, just as secular people are entitled to try to enact their moral views (which stem from their secular, but generally equally unprovable, moral axioms) into law.

    You see, the difference is that slavery and segregation were stupid for reasons other than their violation of religious principles. The same simply can’t be said of abortion or gay rights. Abolishing a woman’s right to choose is defended by the absurd conjecture that fetuses have “souls”. Writing discrimination into the constitution is defended by digging up obscure Leviticus passages. There aren’t any other arguments that haven’t already been proved wrong by science (i.e. that fetuses feel pain, or that being gay is a choice). Our objection isn’t with their views per se; it’s that they have no justification other than that found in Christianity. And religion should never factor into public policy in any way, shape, or form.