Nero's Fiddle
A View From The Handbasket

Wednesday, December 12, 2007
How crazy is Mike Huckabee?
Posted by neros_fiddle at 2:42 PM
This crazy:

The Arkansas Legislature scrambled today to rewrite a bill intended to protect storm victims after Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, objected to language describing such natural phenomena as tornadoes and floods as ''acts of God.''

Mr. Huckabee said that signing the legislation ''would be violating my own conscience'' inasmuch as it described ''a destructive and deadly force as being 'an act of God.' '' The Governor, a Republican, said the legislation was an otherwise worthy bill with objectives he shared.

Mr. Huckabee did not veto the bill but instead asked that it be recalled by the General Assembly. He suggested that the phrase ''acts of God'' be changed to ''natural disasters.''

The House of Representatives refused today to remove the offending phrase, but added the words, ''or natural disasters'' after the words ''acts of God.''

Mr. Huckabee was away from the capital, but his press secretary, Rex Nelson, said the Governor would not decide whether to accept the amended version until the Senate had considered the language.

The legislation would bar insurance companies from canceling coverage solely on the basis of claims filed after losses from storms. It was introduced before a series of tornados on March 1 killed 26 people and destroyed hundreds of houses and businesses, leaving damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

State Representative Dennis R. Young, a Texarkana Democrat who was the bill's sponsor in the House of Representatives, said, ''We've used the term 'act of God' in insurance since there has been insurance -- before there was insurance.''

Governor Huckabee's explained his objections in a letter to the bill's authors, saying: ''I feel that I have indeed witnessed many 'acts of God,' but I see His actions in the miraculous sparing of life, the sacrifice and selfless spirit in which so many responded to the pain of others.''

Because God would never cause a flood. That doesn't sound like something God would do at all.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007
Romney: Believe or else
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:36 AM

Here's the sound bite from today's big "My weird religion isn't really any weirder than your weird religion" speech from Mitt Romney:

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.

So this is the message he's carefully crafted for months? "Freedom requires religion?" If you don't "commune with God" you don't deserve basic rights? That sounds like something the Taliban would cook up, or Sudan (where they throw people in jail for naming teddy bears Muhammad).

And what's with the reverse? "Religion requires freedom?" Again, look at the more repressive Muslim nations -- they're religious as can be, but no one can call them "free." You're free to be a rigid follower of Sharia law, I guess, but that's about where it ends.

The rest of the speech is more of the same. Random sample:

Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me.

A "believer in religious freedom" seems to be the same thing as someone "who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty." If you've never prayed to the Almighty (or failed to kneel while doing so), then you're on your own in Romney's America.

Yes, I'm exaggerating a little for effect (though Romney's sloppy wording makes it all too easy), and what Romney's spouting is mostly meaningless, of course; it's just meant to reassure the base that he'll take his orders from the voices in his head just like Bush does. (Whether or not this will help him regain the ground he's lost to the anti-evolution Baptist minister Mike Huckabee remains to be seen.) But all kidding aside, it's clear that as far as Romney's concerned, freedom of religion means the freedom to be religious. Non-believers can move to the back of the bus.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007
A broken clock is wrong almost all the time
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:01 AM
I hope that this time we can figure out that we're being sold a fake war before the carnage starts.

Go read Glenn Greenwald's telling comparison of hype vs. fact in cases of Iraq in 2003 and Iran in 2007.

My favorite bit was John Bolton's dismissal of the IAEA:

BLITZER: In fairness to Mohamed ElBaredei, before the war in Iraq, when Condoleezza Rice and the President were speaking about mushroom clouds of Saddam Hussein and a revived nuclear weapons program that he may be undertaking, [ElBaradei] was saying that there was absolutely no such evidence, he was poo-poo-ing it, saying that the Bush Administration was overly-alarming and there was no nuclear weapons program that Saddam Hussein had revived. He was right on that one?

BOLTON: Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

So ElBaredei was completely right about Iraq, and the war hawks were completely wrong, and we have untold tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars flushed down the toilet of history as a consequence, and Bolton is telling us to ignore ElBaredei on Iran for no reason other than an appeal to Bolton's authority?

If I were Blitzer, I'd have savagely beaten Bolton with a teleprompter after that.

Later Update: Presented without comment from today's Washington Post:

President Bush got the world's attention this fall when he warned that a nuclear-armed Iran might lead to World War III. But his stark warning came at least a month or two after he had first been told about fresh indications that Iran had actually halted its nuclear weapons program.

Even Later Update: Responding to the above report, here's Bush in this morning's hastily arranged press conference:

Q Mr. President, thank you. I'd like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud; then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in '03 had already come to light to this administration. So can't you be accused of hyping this threat? And don't you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?

THE PRESIDENT: David, I don't want to contradict an august reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze. Why would you take time to analyze new information? One, you want to make sure it's not disinformation. You want to make sure the piece of intelligence you have is real. And secondly, they want to make sure they understand the intelligence they gathered: If they think it's real, then what does it mean? And it wasn't until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public.

Um, wow.

Even if you grant the proposition that Bush is so incurious as to make such a conversation plausible (which, I admit, isn't much of stretch), you're still left with this astonishing calculus:

You have important new intelligence on the threat posed by a volatile state in a volatile region of immense strategic importance. The best thing to do in this situation is ignore the new intelligence while further analysis is done, and not even ask about its general nature. In the meantime, accusing the state of wanting to start World War III is a wise diplomatic move.

Remember, foreign policy is the GOP's strength.

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