Friday, December 27, 2002

Your assignment

The Nitpicker will be out of town for the next week -- Los Niños and I will be hanging around in the Florida panhandle. Your assignment, should you choose (for whatever reason) to accept an assignment from me, is to read an essay in the January issue of Harper's entitled "Common Ground: Finding our way back to the Enlightenment." It's by Thomas de Zengotita (which means, if my Spanish is correct, Tom of the little Zengo) and is excellent. Check this:

If you are a member of an historically marginalized group, doesn't the outrage that motivates your politics derive from a gut sense of the violation of basic justice inherent in historical arrangements as well as from the harm that you and yours have suffered? It's hard to distinguish the sources, but try. And if you are not a member of such a group, ask yourself this: Why do you even care? If you are a straight white man with middle-class advantages, why aren't you a Republican? That would obviously be in your interest, in any Nietzschean sense of the word that might be accepted by postmodern political thought. So what's the story here? Isn't it true that your politics are, at bottom, motivated by Enlightenment ideals?

It will only hurt for a minute if you confess.

And the benefits will be many.

There's some great stuff in this essay and, in the end, it's a new call to arms for a progressive movement. Sometimes we libs get carried away with all this intellectual hoo-ha and lose sight of making politics work, but, for anyone interested in questions like what it ought to mean to be a liberal, this is a "must read."

Update: On the other hand, Stephen (of To the Barricades fame) says that I'm thinking too much.

For God's sake, people!

Wake up!

Look at this (via Rittenhouse) and this and also these and this (via my homey, Prof. Spencer).

Also, I would find this disconcerting if the President didn't keep telling me that he hadn't yet made up his mind as to whether or not we are going to war.

But this is cool (via Alas, a Blog, whom I add to the list).

Thursday, December 26, 2002

How to write like the bourgeoisie

Where I grew up, we'd say that he was a two-faced bastard, but, if you write for Foreign Affairs, you say that Bush has "shown an incipient, albeit unsurprising, case of split personality."

In my hometown, Dennis Kozlowski would be called a thief. If you're Marianne Lavelle of U.S. News & World Report, he's a "rogue." In fact, he's the roguiest. You will, of course, point out how he (and others) have hurt the lower caste, but your use of the word "rogue" will signify just how puckish, how mischievous you think this man is -- who is right now probably shushing waggishly down the slopes at Beaver Creek.

In the Bush administration, you "render" people you've declared "enemy combatants" to a "Mideast country friendly to the United States." In the middle of Kansas, you get someone else to beat his ass, so you can keep your hands clean.

If you're a zealot who wants, apparently, to be able to have a church service wherever you happen to be at the time, you say that Disney's decision to curtail religious services at Disney World shows "a lack of comprehension of how the real country lives and what's important to them." If you're from St. John, Kansas, you say, "If you're so damn Godly, what are you doing at Disney World on a Sunday?" If you're the Lord Jesus Christ, you say, "When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:5-6)

"You at the barricade listen to this!"*

Fellow midwesterner, military veteran (though, unlike me, he's been "in the shit") and ticked off liberal Stephen Charest would like to talk to you about the Krankenversicherung. I hear it's very good with mustard.

I add him to the list.

*Les Miserables, the musical.
Springtime for paranoids

There's never been a better time to be paranoid, because there's never been a time when it's more likely that you really are being watched. Check out the poster for London's new transportation security system. Combine that with the Total Information Awareness Office logo (which has been removed from the DARPA web site) and you can rest assured that the feeling you're being watched is most definitely not your imagination.

Update: Don't forget to go to the London bus web site, where the "watchful eyes" blink at you creepily. Freaked out yet?


It seems ill-timed (or perfectly-timed, one or the other) but our friend Chris Mooney is pissed at Slate's Jim Holt this holiday season. To sum up: Jim said "You can't prove there's no God" and Chris said "I ain't gotta."

Of course, they're both right, but Chris clearly has the upperhand here. Just because you can't prove there isn't a God doesn't mean that He exists. You'd have to drain Loch Ness to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that it's not the home of a monster. That doesn't mean one's swimming around in there.

What bothers me, as, shall we say, a lapsed-atheist, is the foolishness of anyone's trying to explain belief logically. It can't be. That's the beauty of it. No matter how far your logic takes you, you will always find a wall at the end of that road that must be climbed by faith.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Barbie under attack

You see what happens? Someone badmouths someone else and, suddenly, they're a target. Rush did it to Tom. Feminists did it to Barbie. Maybe their scorn is why she's now a target for mutilation. Just terrible. I should have seen this coming, though. In fact, I wrote this column, an "open letter to Barbie," five years ago about Mattel's decision to give Barbie a makeover:

Also, thank God for this unnatural disaster, because I've had the worst case of pig diarrhea. I'll just have to go get some tofu.

Soon to be "disappeared"!

Am I paranoid, or is it too great of a coincidence that the Bushies announced a plan to watch the internet on the same week that blogs received credit for taking down Trent Lott? Is the White House thinking we wouldn't be having "all these problems" if it weren't for the bloggers?

Read this

Though I'm having trouble linking to the actual entry, go check out Big Jim Cappozola's answer to Norah Vincent's nasty column yesterday. It's delicious. My favorite part:

"Her piece is tendentious, misleading, and dishonest. It’s clever, though, the manner in which she attempts to use the traditional media’s alleged superiority to her advantage. It goes like this: A blogger I will not name said something mean about me. I wrote in the L.A. Times that it’s not true. The L.A. Times has editors and fact-checkers to make certain errors are corrected. Therefore, what is said about this matter in the L.A. Times must be true. End of story.

"I don’t think so."

Very nice.

Also, even with all the controversy surrounding Trent Lott, North Carolina Republican Congressman Cass Ballenger said that he "had segregationist feelings" because he had to listen to Cynthia McKinney. Setting aside the fact that McKinney's kookiness probably had nothing to do with her race and whether or not this guy's a racist, you've got to ask yourself when a person is just too stupid to lead.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

In the drawing room...

I'll bet you're wondering why I've called you all here this evening. I'll tell you. The criminal is in this very room!

Hey, Senator Daschle!

How can you work on the hill with all those Republicans? With guys like the blatantly racist Conrad Burns hanging around, I'll bet it's a hell of a challenge.

Also, you've got to read Norah Vincent's latest nuttiness (via Atrios, via that other Roger Ailes). The money sentence? "As much as the blogosphere is full of brave and vital input, it's also full of the careless, mad and sometimes vengeful ravings of half-wits who will say anything, especially about established journalists and writers, just to attract more attention to their sites." Is it careless, mad or vengeful of me to say I think she's a crazy bitch?

Also, come on in, Attorney General Ashcroft. Get comfortable while we explain the process. You see, Senator Lott, Southern Partisan magazine and your own comments have set up this giant sling for you, and all you have to do is put your ass up here in it. TalkLeft has more.

Also, I belatedly add Calpundit and Body and Soul to my blogroll. Read the former's reason he couldn't take being a Republican and the latter's comment's on Jeb Bush, who finally got around to the "importance" of the Trent Lott debacle.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Lott's threat

Oh my. This is good. While I think that we, as Democrats, don't want to show too much glee over the whole Trent Lott affair (considering the fact that what he said really was despicable), I can't help but see this shot across the bow as a sign that the Republican snakes have turned on their own tails. Figure this: Everyone in Washington knows that Karl Rove is the anonymous, shadowy figure who's leaking info out of the White House. As we learned from Mr. DiIulio, nothing gets out without his say-so. However, the public at large seems to take no notice of the man who holds the ring in Dubya's nose.

So, it seems to me that, in complaining about leakers and others in the White House, Lott seems to be threatening to pull back the curtain and show Mr. Rove working the levers and pulleys of the Great and Powerful Oz. We know he's already threatened to jump ship if pushed out of the Majority Leader spot. We know he's already sold out his ideals and his region to save himself (saying that he supports, suddenly, Affirmative Action and saying that the south was led by "immoral" leaders). Is he now saying that if he goes, he's going to take Rove with him?

Tell me if I'm crazy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


I've been away.

First, I gotta thank Julia for nominating me for a Koufax award in the best new blog category over at PLA.

Second, is it just me, or is hard to tell if the Onion's still satire?

Third, Atrios and Josh Marshall have proved themselves more useful to the cause of truth than any five newspapers and all the networks combined. I'm glad they're finally getting the credit they deserve. Now, if you've got a little extra cash lying around, send it to them before the Republicans take it away from you, you "Lucky duckies!"

Friday, December 13, 2002

Mickey, what does it take?

Mickey Kaus found another way to dig at Howell Raines for calling Paul Krugman up to the "big time" instead of him. He said that the Rainesman was "hilariously... asleep at the switch" when the Lott scandal went down.

What's weird is he does this in a paragraph predicting "blogger triumphalism" would be the "only downside... to Lott reliquishing his leadership post." Then he makes this statement: "(W)ouldn't Lott eventually have gotten into big trouble for his remarks even if the Web didn't exist?"

The answer, Mickey, is probably not. Until blogs became as important as they are (at least for show and column prep for the "traditional" media), this kind of stuff was routinely swept under the carpet. This was proven this last week by the uncovering of so much junk on Trent Lott which wasn't common knowledge before. Everyone has been left scratching their heads, saying, "How did this guy get to where he is in the first place?"

Immanentize the Eschaton!

Kudos to Atrios for this. Via the man himself.

The Anti-Discrimination Discriminators

Yesterday, Mighty Joe Conason had another great piece on Trent Lott's record on race. Near the end, he suggests that Bush's move to push his "faith-based initiatives" plan seemed to be a way for Karl Rove to get the focus off of Lott. If so, he picked a funny way of doing it. The Republicans are now covering up discrimination by allowing discrimination.

Atrios was, as far as I know, the first to point out this logical conundrum yesterday, but Bush announced this plan while decrying discrimination -- even though it's built into his plan.

Dubya yesterday said that he was changing (by executive order) the rules that kept some religious groups from getting federal funding. He made sure that the change would allow religious organizations to practice hiring discrimination based on religion. "One order Bush signed," writes Dana Milbank, "explicitly allows religious groups serving as government contractors to hire on the basis of religion."

That's all well and good, but consider Senator Lott's amicus brief on behalf of Bob Jones University. Taking his stance, that could also mean that groups could exclude blacks if their religion says they ought to. Let's look at Lott's words from the brief, via the ever-vigilant Josh Marshall "racial discrimination does not always violate public policy. Schools are allowed to practice racial discrimination in admissions in the interest of diversity... If racial discrimination in the interest of diversity does not violate public policy, then surely discrimination in the practice of religion is no violation."

Bush's orders also demanded that religious groups receive "equal treatment," meaning that they couldn't be discriminated against based on their beliefs. Given that, a group like the folks who founded BJU, which (as it was put in the findings of Bob Jones University v. United States) ""genuinely believes that the Bible forbids interracial dating and marriage," can now get funding thanks to George W. Bush. Even those who expel students who disagree with the policy and "espouse, promote or encourage" interracial dating could get that funding.

As Nitpicker has pointed out already, this "compassionate conservative" stuff is already going to help pay the bills of those who've spouted the only truly anti-American hate speech we've seen thus far, so why should this surprise us?

I'll tell you why. Because it shows that Karl Rove, the media juggler and political magician, may have finally run up against a brick wall. He has, for so long, manipulated the media with the (admittedly politically superb) timing of announcements (aided by media complicity in looking in the direction he points) and the use of minimalist language that hides the depth of Bush's plans. Now, in trying to cover-up one Republican gaffe he has, if the media will show it, shown the party's weakness on this issue and, if someone with a national soapbox will only dig deeper, it will show the discrimination inherent in the party. People can now be shown that the Republican platform was made for rich white people who care little for people of color and the poor.

Update: The New York Times' "major league asshole" Adam Clymer lays it all out for you. Read this column, too.

And, I'll bet, Republicans will be promoting Professor Krugman to the major leagues today, too (if they haven't already).

Also good. And, check out what Body and Soul has to say about this, via Sisyphus Shrugged.

More: The post from Jeanne D'Arc at Body and Soul (link above) has really got me thinking. Read it. Then realize this: There is no better time than the present to put the whole "Party of Lincoln" crap behind us, by pointing out that Lott, Thurmond and Helms all used to be Democrats. Now, we might shudder at the thought that these people were once members of our party, but we should take this time to celebrate the fact that they switched when it became clear that the Democratic party was no longer hospitable to their beliefs. As Trent Lott himself told his buddies at the Southern Partisan magazine (thanks again, Mr. Marshall), "I think that a lot of the fundamental principles that (Confederate President) Jefferson Davis believed in are very important today to people all across the country, and they apply to the Republican Party."

Thursday, December 12, 2002

The Awful Truth and What it Means

A friend of mine from college -- currently a staffer with one of the slimier people in Washington (in my opinion) -- really does like to use those Republican talking points when getting his point across. Over the past few days, we've been e-arguing over the last elections. Try to believe, as my man Bob Somerby says, that he wrote this about the fliers in black neighborhoods in Louisiana that said if the weather was bad, they could vote on Tuesday: "Now that Louisiana stuff is bullshit, and by bullshit I mean I doubt it happened and if it did I would bet it was a democrat set up."

This was the worst kind of epiphany, people. It really was. I knew and liked this guy in college. He and I had some really good times together. He and I lost contact over the years -- I was in the Navy and he was diligently working his way up the Hill -- and, when we did get back in touch, I was working for KKSU radio in Manhattan, Kansas and he was working in Austin for the Bush campaign. Come to find out, we'd both converted to Catholicism at about the same time, too, oddly enough.

Here's the shocking part: I had convinced myself that only the crazy freepers believed the kind of stuff my friend was now spouting. (The Louisiana bit was only one of many comments, but I don't want to give away his or his employer's identity.) But, clearly, this wasn't a case of a man just being loyal. He actually believed that Democrats would put up fliers that told blacks they could vote late, just to "set up" Republicans. It doesn't make sense on so many levels I can hardly stand it. My fellow Democrats, we are fighting a group of people who are brainwashing themselves right before your eyes. They aren't just lying to the American public. They aren't just fighting for ascendancy. They are lying to themselves and beating down any shred of common sense which rears its ugly head. The ones who don't turn over their free will and intelligence to the party cannot succeed in the party.

If a guy like the one I'm talking about can go from an open-minded, hilarious, smart, suffer-no-fools kind of guy to the kind of guy who could vehemently suck up and spew the bile that Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh toss their way, then God help us all.

So, what can be done? If you'll read the entry below, you'll see an excellent example of what happens when a conservative is faced with the truth and forced to recognize it. Our goal, then, is to know the truth at all times. We have to know what they're going to say before they say it and know how we ought to respond. One good thing about this surprise has been to realize that conservatives of all stripes really do follow the talking points. That makes them easier to figure out and easier to fight.

In light of recent events and with our education in mind, I recommend reading today's Daily Howler. Already, the conservative media have started rolling out their responses to the Trent Lott issue. As always, their method isn't to address his comments, but to say that a) this is a political move to pick on Republicans and b) where were they when Democrats X and Y were saying something similar. As Somerby shows, though, we need to keep them as honest as we possibly can. They will lie. We just have to know the sources of information by which we can refute their lies.

As for my friend, I continue to call him that. I finally moved the topic off of politics and there was some polite discussion of family and work. However, I look at him now as I would a friend at the end of a battle with terminal cancer. The confusion he shows, the repetitive speech, the vitriol obvious in his rants -- these are all simply the symptoms of a man lost (or very nearly lost) to the world of reality. Let's stop this disease before it spreads even further.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Fox News Smackdown

There's more to this, but this should give you a sense of how stupid Sean Hannity looked compared to Mike Farrell last night. I would hope that the lily-livered Alan Colmes was paying attention to the fact that, if you try to make conservatives show you where their lies come from, they can't take it. You should read the rest of the transcript, but you really had to see how flustered and idiotic Hannity looked when faced by a liberal with some cojones. That's why they all have radio shows -- they can cut you off and make it look like you've just gone away.

We pick up the action near the end...

HANNITY: I really wonder, I got to really wonder what would happen if all of the left-wing Hollywood actors signed a letter and sent it to Saddam Hussein and asked him to comply with the cease-fire agreement and U.N. resolutions that have been passed the over the years, I don't think they would get too far.

FARRELL: Is there a value in making these kinds of statements?

HANNITY: Yes, there is.

FARRELL: What is it?

HANNITY: Because, you know something, if you're wrong, a lot of people are going to die.

FARRELL: If I'm wrong about what?

HANNITY: If your organization, and I read all your information you have right here, if you guys are wrong in your predictions about what's going to happen with this war...

FARRELL: We didn't predict anything.


FARRELL: Excuse me, where did we predict anything, if that you're accusing us of having done.

HANNITY: Your prediction right here. This is all part of your -- when you read this part of this letter -- I'm asking you...

FARRELL: I wrote part of that letter. Tell me what we predicted.

HANNITY: Are you saying all these horrible things are going to happen if we go to war?

FARRELL: Tell me what we predicted.

HANNITY: I have your letter right here. I can read it if you like.

FARRELL: Please, I would appreciate it if you would.

HANNITY: I don't have enough time on the air.

But I'm asking you, you're sending this letter...


FARRELL: You don't want to read the letter?

HANNITY: What I want to know...

FARRELL: Listen, we sent -- we sent a letter, we made a statement that is released to the American people...

HANNITY: A statement, I'm sorry.

FARRELL: A statement -- thank you for correcting yourself. We made a statement that was released to the American people (This isn't in the official transcript, but, here, Hannity says "You get what I was saying.") -- you're not too hard to get, pal, when you're as far out to the right as you are.

FARRELL: We released a statement that says there is no need...

HANNITY: If you're wrong, innocent people die.

FARRELL: There is no need for the war rhetoric when we have inspectors on the ground doing the work that was charged by the United Nations. Why don't we let them do it.


Thank God we're finally living in a country led by people who understand, as Michael Kelly put it, that reality is "defined by the consequences of policies." Thank God they've learned that the Republican training and arming of dubiously "friendly" military leaders -- as they did Osama and Saddam -- was a terrible idea and played some role in the mess we're in today. Thank God they'll never do anything like that again, because that would be... What's that?

Oh shit.

Lott said it before

Read this.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Can he get a witness?

Probably not in the administration, but The Nitpicker is glad to stand up and give a big "Amen, brother!" to the lovely and talented Dwight Meredith, who jumps up and down on Bush's "lockbox," the one where he keeps all the secrets of what he's doing and why he's doing it.

These are the same people who want information about what you buy, who you call and what your e-mails say. Last night, Al Haig said on Hannity and Colmes that we should all just sit back and let the Bush do whatever he wants. Do that and you'll find you're entire government is a secret to you and you will have no secrets left.

Listen up!

What do we have to do get the United States to listen to this guy? Get him a blog? That seems to be a very effective way to, er, well, er, ... um...

Maybe not.

If Carter did start a blog, I think it ought to be named "Citizen of a Troubled World."

(I kid about blogs, of course, they've done a very good job of keeping people like me on the internet and off the street corners, yelling, "Repent! Repent! REEEEPENT!")

Dubya wants your lunch money

Julia, of Sisyphus Shrugged fame, on the bullying tactics of the modern conservative:

"(R)unning into a thug sets off trained reflexes in generation of people who know that if they speak up to Ann Coulter, especially if she's being blatantly abusive, their homework is going to end up in a clogged toilet some fine recess and even if they do speak up, no-one will do a damn thing about it. Because thugs enjoy hurting people, so they hurt people for fun."

I'm so with you, but couldn't just about anyone take away Tucker Carlson's baseball mitt? And wouldn't Rush have been called "butterball" as a kid? What's interesting is the juxtaposition of the bully nature of conservative politicians, when all their pundit bootlickers are like the little dog in the old cartoon, jumping around saying, "Can we bomb Iraq today, Spike? Can we? Huh? Can we? Let's get that Tom Daschle, Spike. Let's tear 'im limb from limb. I'll show ya I'm tough. I'll show ya. Don't I look tough, Spike? Don't I? Huh? Huh?"

Could it be that the smart kids (or, at least, geeks like Rush) who've co-opted their intelligence to serve illogic are only tolerated by the right because they kiss ass? Like the kid with the thick glasses who can get into his dad's liquor cabinet or the chubby kid who would let bullies belittle him just as long as he's included? Think not? Then consider Bush's attitude toward Larry Lindsey. "Bush blamed Lindsey for many of the administration's economic missteps in recent months and even complained privately about his failure to exercise physically, aides said."

In other words, Bush said, "Get out of here if you can't do anything for me, Fatty."

Class warfare

I need some help figuring this out and, yes, I'm looking at you, TalkLeft. I'm still trying to figure out how it is that America's enlisted service members can continually be denied their constitutional rights by the Universal Code of Military Justice. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are not allowed trial by a jury of their peers, are denied their Fifth Amendment rights (which are automatically denied them by the amendment itself during wartime) and face a court system which is pretty clearly stacked against them. I saw much of this when I was in the Navy -- officers who were whisked off to other assignments when they screwed up and enlisted sailors who were simply canned -- and felt that there was a failing somewhere in a system that held leaders to a lower standard of conduct than their subordinates.

I don't want to say it, but I will: How can the people who defend the country be denied its most basic protections?

Note: For those of you who are coming to blogs assbackwards (reading me before you've read Los Blogos Primeros), TalkLeft is the blogchiridion of justice issues.

Monday, December 09, 2002

As if you even noticed

I was away for awhile and, although I now (through sitemeter) have proof that someone's reading these postings, I failed to get one single e-mail which pleaded: "Please, Nitpicker, don't abandon us!" or "We need you, Nitpicker!" I'm hurt.

Now, on with the show and what I missed over the past few days:

Dispatches from the "Party of Lincoln": Trent Lott said America would have been a better place without blacks in its white schools and Republicans in Louisiana tried to trick blacks into not voting.

On economy: Andrew Sullivan gives an excellent reason for you to put more money into savings right now.

On the "liberal" media: E.J. Dionne said, belatedly, that it's a myth. Meanwhile, Billy Moyers smacks Bill O'Reilly's ass like a newborn baby's.

On the war to come: Nitpicker may break down and by an actual TV show transcript, since 60 Minutes' Bob Simon picked apart all of Bush's falsehoods about why we should attack Iraq.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002


Correcting myself, of course. Chris Mooney gives Intelligent Design theorists their due and implies that, in my rant yesterday, I may have missed the point a bit. ID theorists "don't officially claim to know who the designer is, much less where that designer came from" he points out.

He's right, obviously, and as he pointed out in the American Prospect online, that's the whole, sneaky trick of their movement. They're saying, "We're not pushing God, we're just saying that everything seems to work very well, so someone must have designed it." The problem, though, is one of perspective. Yes, we see design from our perspective because, well, we're here.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Abba Dabba Honeymoon

No, we're not celebrating the nuptials of the monkey and the chimp -- although the Nitpicker does hope that they continue to spend their lives being happy and gay all day long -- but the marriage of creationism with a facade of science. Chris Mooney delivers an excellent article on The American Prospect Online today, which picks apart the plotting of the marketers of "Intelligent Design."

Now, this, to me, still sounds like the old argument of the found watch: You find a watch on the ground and pick it up and you have to believe that someone made it, right? True. But it's a watch. Any six-year-old can tell you that to argue that life is so complex that someone must have made it begs only one follow-up question: Who made that someone? That entity must be exponentially more complicated in both thought and being to have created us, so how could we believe that He "just happened." That's like saying that the pocketwatch you found was clearly designed by someone, but the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the distance (and all the planes onboard) were a lucky accident.

Look, people. I believe in God. I am a Catholic and believe everything you'll find in the Nicene Creed. The thing is, that seems to me to be just about all that you're required to believe. Nowhere in the Bible does it state that you have to take every portion of the Bible literally to achieve salvation. Christ lays down a pretty good road map for "the narrow way" and doesn't once say that you have to believe in the Book of Genesis. Yet, fundamentalists will tell you that, unless you believe the Bible wholesale and at face value, you're not a true Christian.

What's quite astonishing to me is that fundamentalists already know that the Bible isn't a literal text. Look at their other flirtation with (social) science, eschatology -- the study of the "End Times." (I argue here with the fundamentalist takeover of that study, not the study itself.) In any fundamentalist discussion of the apocalypse or, at least, the apocalyptic vision of St. John, you will find groups who are attempting to apply the images found in Revelations to today. They know that things can't possibly be exactly as foretold, that a beast is going to rise from the sea, and put 666 on all the bad people's foreheads. Look at all of the Left Behind books. Fundamentalists who believe they must take the Bible's creation story literally still believe that they must read Revelations figuratively.

(I won't even mention the philosophical backflips the fundamentalist millionaire Pat Robertson has to go through to explain what Christ really meant when he said that "it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.")

I say it's all or nothing, Baby. If you can choose what you want to interpret, others should probably able to try to deal with other portions of the Bible as they see fit. As long as they're working (from whatever background they may come) toward Christ's narrow way, they should be considered just as Christian as you.

Remember, everyone, the words of James 4:12 (which should become as common for open-minded Christians as John 3:16): "There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?"

Also, skipping Ariana Huffington's Salon column today would be a huge, huge mistake. In fact, it might be downright un-American. Update: Of course, I should have known that Molly would beat her to the punch.

Also, via Atrios, the "Christian Right" is griping about Bush calling Islam a religion of peace. "Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan official who serves on the Bush Pentagon's Defense Policy Board," said "'The more you examine the religion, the more militaristic it seems. After all, its founder, Mohammed, was a warrior, not a peace advocate like Jesus.'" He's right that Mohammed was a warrior, but (violence-wise) he's nothing compared to Moses, as I pointed out here.