Friday, March 30, 2007

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

Cheddarvision allows you to watch cheese age. More here.

Is environmentalism becoming a form of religion? This is a meme sometimes found on the anti-enviro right, and in some extreme cases, they have a point. There is something fundamentalist about those who think of the earth as somehow an entity to be obeyed rather than a place to be simply lived in. The totalism of some animal rights activists has the smack of rigid orthodoxy. We all know how green the roots of the Nazi party were.

But this is an extreme fringe. For the vast majority of people who care about the environment, the impulse is usually to preserve something we love. At its root, this is a conservative impulse. In America, in particular, love of the land has long been a part of patriotism. And where religious faith appears, it isn't necessarily a paean to Gaia. "America, The Beautiful" is an environmentalist hymn. America's greatest poets, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, are intoxicated with the natural beauty of this continent. Part of their intoxication is their sense of the divine saturating the natural. Read Thoreau or Emerson and the same American interaction with nature is palpable. Americans, after all, forged a relationship with wilderness more recently than any Europeans. And there is, therefore, a deeply patriotic form of green thought in America that has been overly neglected by environmentalists and that can and should be reclaimed by political leaders, especially on the right.


In the beloved Iraq, the bloodshed is continuing under an illegal foreign occupation and detestable sectarianism. The blame should fall on us, the leaders of the Arab nation, with our ongoing differences, our refusal to walk the path of unity. All that has made the nation lose its confidence in us.


Victory is no longer an option in Iraq, if it ever was. The only rational objective left is to responsibly organize America’s inevitable exit. That is exactly what Mr. Bush is not doing and what the House and Senate bills try to do.


The one thing we’ve learned but Mr. Bush has not, is that depending on whom you do it to, lying can be a crime even if you are not under oath. Mr. Bush knows that if his in-house liars, of whom he has an abundance from whom to select, lie under oath they may be subject to criminal prosecution. He thinks if they are not under oath when they lie to Congress it’s not a crime. There’s a reason for his confusion. He told the biggest lie of all and has not been prosecuted for it. What he doesn’t realize is that’s not because he was not under oath. It’s because he didn’t tell it to a Congressional committee. He told it to the entire world and that’s not a crime even though to date it’s gotten 3400 American soldiers killed, more than 25,000 American soldiers wounded and depending on what reports you choose to read, between 200,000 and 600,000 Iraqis killed. Mr. Bush’s lie is the lie that continues to give, as more soldiers and Iraqis die and are grievously wounded daily. All Mr. Bush has to do to educate himself on the two methods of criminally lying is to examine two guilty pleas entered by two former members of his administration.


Hear me now, Obama supporters -- the style versus substance rap is something Obama will have to deal with throughout the campaign. Get used to it.

The possibility of Bill Clinton returning to the White House he left six years ago raises some questions that are far touchier than whether Americans are ready for a “first gentleman.” As an ex-president, how much influence would he have in his wife’s administration? Will memories of the Monica Lewinsky scandal haunt Hillary Clinton’s campaign and drive away voters? What’s the status of the Clintons’ marriage — and does it matter?


Allegations of voter fraud -- someone sneaking into the polls to cast an illicit vote -- have been pushed in recent years by partisans seeking to justify proof-of-citizenship and other restrictive ID requirements as a condition of voting. Scare stories abound on the Internet and on editorial pages, and they quickly become accepted wisdom.

But the notion of widespread voter fraud, as these prosecutors found out, is itself a fraud. Firing a prosecutor for failing to find wide voter fraud is like firing a park ranger for failing to find Sasquatch.


I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws -- particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies -- from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.


What little credibility Gonzales had is gone. All that now keeps him in office, save the friendship of the president, is the conviction of many Republicans that removing him would embolden the Democrats. It is an overblown fear. The Democrats will pursue scandals, real or invented, whether or not Gonzales stays. But they have an especially inviting target in Gonzales. He cannot defend the administration and its policies even when they deserve defense. Alberto Gonzales should resign. The Justice Department needs a fresh start.


After putting in place "watch lists" that, if abused, might keep you from getting a job or insuring your family, we hear about the Treasury Department's list of "specially designated nationals." Intended to control the activities of suspected terrorists, the list maintained by the Office of Foreign Asset Control, is now being used by a range of businesses--from auto dealers to mortgage companies--to deny ordinary citizens access to loans and capital items.


If my critique of the Bush administration could be expressed in a single sentence, it would be this -- they ignore and attack restraints on their power. This is the foundational conceptual thread that binds together so many of the scandals and controversies we've seen over the past few years. International law constraining your actions? Ignore it. War crimes statute limiting your interrogation methods? Ignore it (then delete it). Don’t like part of a congressionally-enacted statute? Issue a signing statement and ignore it. Pesky FISA cramping your style? Declare it unconstitutional. Geneva Convention got you down? Call it quaint. Is your habeas flaring up again? Delete it. Having problems with a special prosecutor? Lie to him. Are certain Democrats political threats? Prosecute them, or suppress their political base through fraud investigations or through not enforcing the Voting Rights Act. And if U.S. Attorneys refuse to go along? Fire them.


The Bush administration has started legacy hunting, and it has fixed its sights on immigration reform. The one issue where George Bush and the Democrats have common ground will get immediate attention . . . a development that will concern border-security conservatives.

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