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Category Archives: US Politics

Why Did The USA Sign The Nuclear Deal With Iran ?

The USA has allowed an Iranian nuclear program to continue and will allow $100bn in embargoed oil revenues to return once compliance is established (approx. 1 year).

So what does the USA get ?

Normally I would follow the money, but US corporations and trade do not benefit under this deal. Most, if not all, trade and commercial relations with Iran by US interests and subsidiaries are still prohibited.

But the deal is still about preserving US/Israeli regional hegemony. Iran, however, held the upper hand and so got the lions share of the short-term benefit.

In short, Iran has successfully developed a semi-clandestine nuclear program to the point where it could start producing a nuclear weapons within three months if it rushed to production.

The deal stipulates the decommissioning of 2/3rds of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, the export (and therefore loss to Iran) of 98% of Iran’s enriched uranium and places a cap on the level to which Iran may enrich Uranium in the future.

In other words, the deal is designed to prevent Iran producing nuclear weapons in the short and medium term.

The deal has a sunset of 15 years. After that time all nuclear sanctions and limitations are lifted.

The USA is just trying to buy some time.

In the meantime the deal preserves Israel as the only nuclear state in the Middle East, thus preserving US/Israeli hegemony.

Just on ‘buying time’, the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program only increase the difficulty in making a nuclear weapon by a small quantum.

Under pre-deal conditions Iran could rush to weaponisation in three months. Under post-deal conditions it will still take only one year. The US hasn’t bought much time for its $100bn – but OTOH it may be sufficient time.

Also, US satellite coverage of Iran is complete. If Iran attempted to even move a nuclear warhead to a missile base, that action would be detected instantly and the entire country destroyed within 60 seconds.

Some say that the $100bn in returned oil revenue and lifting of economic embargo buys the US military support for Iran against ISIS.

My view is that the USA actually supports ISIS in Syria as it wants to evict the Russia and their proxy Assad (whereas Iran is opposed to ISIS in Syria)

But the USA is truly opposed to ISIS in Iraq, as is Iran.

I think the USA is actually playing dead in Syria with limited bombing campaigns as a public relations exercise. It is hoping that ISIS/Turkey can evict Russia/Assad/Iran from Syria. The determination of Russia to hold Syria has been a game-changer and put ISIS on the back foot.

On a personal note it is interesting to note that the alliances in Syria are aligning extremely well with the scenario described in the Gog and Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38 as a precursor to Biblical End Times.

So the USA will oppose Iran in Syria, but support it in Iraq, where their interests are aligned.

I think it likely that the Nuclear Deal has been brokered partly on this shared geo-political basis.

So, if the USA-Iran Nuclear deal supports US/Israeli hegemony, why do The Republican Party and Israel oppose it ?

My guess is that probably The Republicans simply reject diplomacy a priori as a political strategy, They wish to entrench Military Bombardment as the single and only US posture in International Relations, seeing this as a more secure long-term guarantor of hegemony.

Possibly Israel has a similar view of itself vis-a-vis Middle Eastern relations.

To put it in a nutshell, Iran had the USA by the throat in regard to the strength of its negotiation position. Iran was on the very threshold of producing nuclear weapons: literally a matter of weeks. The USA had no choice but to offer Iran gigantic bribes to unplug its nuclear weapons program.

I suspect though that the deal will not prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons. Look, they basically managed to do it already under full embargo. I don’t think they will abandon the regional power that comes from being a nuclear power.

I would say that Obama is already dudded.

Further Reading

Here’s a good analysis of the relative risks of options open to the USA in relation to Iran’s Nuclear program: Do Nothing, Bomb, Return To Sanctions or Diplomatic Compromise (as recently concluded by Obama in this deal).

Here’s an article in The Guardian, War With Iran Is Back On The Table, which recaps smy argument above with some additional information and includes a reference to a book devoted to the subject of the US-Iran Nuclear deal

Conservative Christian friends of mine alerted me to a statement by Barack Obama that he would supposedly stand with Muslims if the political tide turned ugly. This statement alarmed my friends who felt that it displayed a partisan bias toward Muslims by Obama. As they put it why not stand with everyone else too ?

I asked if they would forward me the statement, which they duly did from the Conservative Crusader website. Here’s what CC has to say:

Note what B. Hussein Obama says in his own words. In “Audacity of Hope” he writes: “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” The quote comes from page 261 of the paperback edition of “The Audacity of Hope.”

Unfortunately for Conservative Crusader, the statement attributed to Obama is not accurate. It is a misquote made with the intention of slurring Obama as a secret Muslim.

This particular piece of error has been dealt with by the website Truth Or Fiction.

The statement said to be Obama’s own words is actually a paraphrase of a quote from Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope. It is from a section that talks about the concerns of immigrants who are American citizens.

In context, Obama is saying that he would defend American Muslims against racist persecution such as that experienced by American Japanese during WW2. And he is saying that he would do the same for any immigrant community.

Here is the accurate and more complete quote:

Of course, not all my conversations in immigrant communities follow this easy pattern. In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.

By the same standard of proof proffered by Conservative Crusader it can be (erroneously) shown that George W. Bush is also a secret Muslim.

I found GW Bush’s comments on Islam delivered (GASP!) from within a Mosque on Sept. 17, 2001 just days after the 9/11 attacks.

In it Bush says much the same thing as Obama:
That Muslims are entitled to be free from racist persecution and that he would defend Muslims from such ugliness. The article summarizes Bush’s sentiments like so “Bush: U.S. Muslims should feel safe”.

Bush said:

“I’ve been told that some [Muslims] fear to leave [their homes]; some don’t want to go shopping for their families; some don’t want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they’re afraid they’ll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.”

Bush, revealing his Islamic sympathies, also said that Muslims are the friends of America, that Muslims are our brothers and sisters, that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the 9/11 attacks are not Islamic. He also quoted from the Koran and supported the Islamic view that the Koran can only be properly understood in Arabic.

Well, look, its obvious nonsense isn’t it ? Turning the target on its head makes that plain.

The political strategy employed by Obama’s enemies to discredit him was to say that he was a terrorist.

They used three main ways to do this:

  • Tie him to the radical leftist group The Weathermen, and say he was a radical Communist
  • Highlight inflammatory remarks made by his Christian Pastor of twenty years, Jeremiah Wright (who married the Obamas) and say he was a Radical Black Panther-type Christian
  • Highlight his Kenyan ancestry and childhood and his name Hussein to imply he was a radical Muslim

So, Obama, landing a seriously arcane quadrella is simultaneously a Communist, a Christian, a Black Panther and a Muslim.

In fact all of the accusations dwell as congenially as oil and water in the credulous article from Conservative Crusader, linked above

Plainly, Obama is no more a Muslim than George Bush.

Newt Gingrich confirmed the tendency of the United States toward Palengentic Corporatist Ultranationalistic Populism by bluntly stating that he would arrest US Judges that gave rulings sympathetic to a secularist ideal or which encroached upon the discretionary powers of the US President acting as Commander-In-Chief.

Newt said he would take action against

“steady encroachment of secularism through the courts to redefine America as a non-religious country.”

and, of course, that he was defending “traditional American values.”

Says the blog Digital Journal

Michael Mukasey [an Attorney-General under GW Bush] said to Fox News that Gingrich’s proposals were “dangerous, ridiculous, totally irresponsible, outrageous, off-the-wall, and would reduce the entire judicial system to a spectacle”.

Now, Newt is not stating that he would immediately imprison Judges with whom he disagrees. He just wants to haul them before a Commission Of Inquiry to explain their treachery thinking i.e. he just wants to intimidate the judges, not imprison them…yet.

Crocodile Tears For Checks And Balances

Newt’s assertive proposal for the defence of the US government against unconstitutional judical activism is spelt out in his election year manifesto “Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution”

This document presents as the call of a concerned citizen for the US Constitution to be interpereted according to the precepts of ‘Originalism’ and for proper constitutional observation of the limits of power of each of the governmental branches of the US (Congress, President, Judiciary).

However, Gingrich’s call for the proper seperation of powers is a mere smokescreen for his desire to see an effectively unlimited presidency as insofar as this concerns Presidential discretionary powers when acting as Commander-In-Chief.

Gingrich concentrates his attention and warnings on what he sees as the creeping aggregation of perogative by the Courts and for them to be put under proper restraint through Congress and the President using their Constitutional rights to question, discipline and/or dismiss activist Judges and Courts.

Gingrich does not, however, caution against the President over-reaching his Constitutional privileges or sound any warning that the Presidency is undermining the proper seperation of powers via the over use of Presidential Executive Orders. In fact, Gingrich is seeking to strengthen the Predidents ability to act unilaterally by recommending that Courts and Judges be disciplined or struck down for ruling on limitations to Presidential power.

Gingrich, while not a Tea Partyer himself, is opportunistically attempting to leverage the powerful ‘Constitutionalist’ sentiment (see also here) generated by the Tea Party movement in order to expand the unilateral perogatives of the Presidency.

Gingrich’s immediate aim is to entrench in the Presidency the unilateral right to declare war whenever the President so decides. This is why he especially wishes to cordon off the President’s role of Commander-In-Chief from question or review by the Courts, whom he properly recognises as the most likely source of constraint on the President.

In this, Gingrich appears to share common ground with and exceed John McCain who, during the last US Federal Election, when asked what US Policy should be toward Iran simply sang ‘Bomb, Bomb, Bomb / Bomb Bomb Iran’ to the tune of the famous 60’s pop tune ‘Barbara Ann’.

Face Value

Gingrich’s document “Bringing the Courts Back Under the Constitution” presents well as a case for Originalism and provides good examples of judicial activism which would warrant Congressional inquiry.

The most topical is the astounding (though legally consistent) assertion by Judge Biery, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas someone that he would order the arrest of any school official who permitted a person to lead a group of persons of mixed or non-belief in prayer during a high school graduation speech or merely say the words “amen” or “prayer” during the ceremony.

From Judge Biery’s injunction

These students, and all other persons scheduled to speak during the graduation ceremony, shall be instructed not to present a prayer, to wit, they shall be instructed that they may not ask audience
members to “stand,” “join in prayer,” or “bow their heads,” they may not end their remarks with “amen” or “in [a deity’s name] we pray,” and they shall not otherwise deliver a message that would commonly be understood to be a prayer, nor use the word “prayer” unless it is used in the student’s expression of the student’s personal belief, as opposed to encouraging others who may not believe in the concept of prayer to join in and believe the same concept.

this injunctive order shall be effective immediately and shall be enforced by incarceration or other sanctions for contempt of Court if not obeyed by District official and their agents.

Gingrich adduces his document with many supporting statements from the US Founding Fathers (e.g Madison, Hamilton), supplies fair examples of where he feels that the US Supreme Court has exceeded the Constitution and makes a reasoned argument against judicial activism as he sees it. I found it an enjoyable and stimulating read.

But Gingrich is deceiving the electorate. He is not at all concerned with Constitutional balance between the arms of government, merely with aggrandaising the office of President by giving it irrevocable powers when acting as Commander-In-Chief.

Furthermore, Gingrich uses the rulings of Judge Biery above to generate outrage to distract attention from his agenda to aggrandaise the Presidency. In short, his entire conduct in this matter is as a calculated power grab under the dishonest pretence to be a defender of Constitutional balance.

While expressing outrage at judicial activism and subversion of the Constitution, Gingrich ignores Presidential activism and subversion of the kind openly acknowledged by aides to President Clinton

Stroke of the pen. Law of the Land. Kinda cool.”
Paul Begala, former Clinton advisor, The New York Times, July 5, 1998

“We’ve switched the rules of the game. We’re not trying to do anything legislatively.”
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, The Washington Times, June 14, 1999

Presidential Activism

As the website ThisNation.com describes in its article, ‘What Is An Executive Order’ ‘Executive Orders do not require Congressional approval to take effect but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress’ and also notes that the US involvement in the 1999 Balkans war against Serbia under Clinton was authorised by Executive Order.

This attempt by Gingrich to concentrate more unilateral power in the office of President, to legitimize such concentration, protect it from criticism and to limit the most effective brake on that power shows Gingrich as possessing active Fascist impulses. This is unfortunately too well in line with the general and growing Fascist orientation of the Tea Party and Republican Party in general.

The Palingenic content of his statement lies in the call to defend ‘Traditional American Values’. As my linked article above explains, Fascist movements are Palengenic meaning they seek a rebirth from some corrupted or dead state and Reactionary in that they respond to a supposed existential threat of some kind. Gingrich has here identified the Judiciary as that existential threat to traditional values.

Prophecy

Gingrich’s assertion of traditional American Biblical values in conjuction with the call for unlimited war-making powers in the Presidency is a clear validation of the prediction that when Fascism comes to America it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. The conjuction of the two aspects is, in my view, significant.

The particularly nasty part about Gingrich’s comments are that he deceptively asserts a desire to balance the powers of government while actually attempting to minimize one (the courts) and aggrandaise another (the Presidency). His manifesto nowhere mentions the dangers of an unlimited Presidency. Only the courts are criticized.

By seeking to constrain the courts, Gingrich is attempting to remove constraints on single-person Presidential power which is law by decree, a hallmark of Fascism.

I will re-state: Should the USA suffer a major economic depression or lose control of Middle East Oil, it will quickly descend into Fascism. This danger will be present until significant political actors, such as Gingrich, no longer feel comfortable in voicing proto-Fascist proposals, a precondition for which is that the Tea Party Movement will have ceased to exist.

How did the Libyan NFZ proposal succeed in the Security Council ?

My short answer, following Chomsky: The West must periodically dump its favourite dictators when their crimes become obvious to the the general population of Western democracies.

Marcos, described by GH Bush as ‘pledged to democracy’ adding that ‘[the US] love[s] your adherence to democratic principle and to the democratic processes’ was dumped for Aquino due to mass public protest. Others, including Mubarrak, have met the same fate. Now its Gaddaffi’s turn.

The average Western voter, unaware of Gaddaffi’s general working relationship with the US thinks of Gaddaffi as an anti-Western psycho-tyrant. This is a left-over from his ‘official enemy of civilisation’ status earnt around the time of the Lockerbie bombing. For the westerner in the street, Gaddaffi’s ‘official enemy’ status has never been revised or rescinded despite his aforesaid working relationship with the US and the West. The eruption of civil war in Libya including air-force strikes on civilians and rebels rightly disgusts Norm and Noreen Everage who expect the innocent to be protected. So there is domestic political expectation in the West, grounded in basic decency, that our governments will enact a NFZ.

But governments, naturally, approach the situation based on realpolitik and self-interest.

The crucial political factor which allowed the NFZ proposal to succeed is the alliance of common interest between Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations with the US.

While significant chunks of the grass roots Arab citizenry may hate the US, their governments rather enjoy selling the US oil and receiving Megatons of military equipment as part of various perverse aid and friendship packages. The Americans base the bulk of their Persian Gulf fleet in Bahrain , to name just one important aspect of this relationship.

The Arab League does not wish to succour the highly energetic and successful protest movements swelling under their feet, so to provide a precedent of supporting a rebel movement in Libya must have stuck in their craw and contributed to a great deal of hesitation in their agreement with the UN/NATO.

The Arab League is a Sunni organisation. Iran is not a member. This makes the Arab League easier to deal with for the US/West than the Organisation Of The Islamic Conference, of which Iran, a trenchant opponent if the USA is a member. I think this is why the US/NATO sought agreement with the Arab League rather than the OIC. Iran would have it harder for the Saudis to make a deal which was predicated partly on the basis of Shiites being massacred in Bahrain.

As to why Saudi planes (or the Arab League generally) are not doing the bombing runs, well, they have to save face with their own population. Its not great internal press to openly bomb other Muslims. If the Brits do it then that may just distract the rebel movements a little into an anti-Western lacuna.

But the Saudis wlll happily massacre as many Shiite Bahranis as they have bullets, or Apache helicopters.

The typical Western voter, unaware of the basic alliance between Arab and Western governments, and with no pre-existing mental image of Bahraini royalty except a vague negative Arab/Muslim sterotype will consider the Bahraini massacres an internal Arab matter and will not expect Western intervention. Besides which, war with Saudi Arabia is beyond the comfort level of most of the sane.

But in regard to Libya, the West needed the NFZ deal to save face with its own populace – particularly the British, whose royalty are friends with Gaddaffi’s son and whose famous London School Of Economics received bequests from the psycho-tyrant himself.

So I would guess the essence of the deal with the Arab League would be “Let us do a NFZ in Libya and we’ll look the other way while you massacre as many as you want elsewhere, starting with Bahrain and Yemen’

How China and Russia were talked into abstaining, I don’t know, but it would have cost the West a barrel of favours that would make even a FIFA junket look trivial.

So, the NFZ is not a specific imperialialist gambit or lunge for Libyan oil, but rather an unfortunate turn of events where popular protest has forced the West to abandon one of its murderous clients.

This happens regularly and is very distressing because revolution is more unpredicatable than Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates and who the West gets to deal with next will have to be cultivated/managed/bombed or bribed into compliance which is costly, time-consuming and has no guarantee of success.

I was chasing up the connection between Climate Change Denialism, DDT and the Tobacco Industry when I serendipitously came across a very useful essay on the topic of ‘What Is Fascism ?’ at Orcinus.

The essay is called Rush, Newspeak and Fascism, written by Daniel Neiwert in the midst of the G W Bush era. Neiwert’s special interest is the conspiracist US Patriot/Militia movements, their involvement in domestic terrorism and the way they admire and are accommodated by the Republican Party.

Neiwert canvasses some important essays on Fascism including Umberto Eco’s essay on Ur-Fascism before settling on Oxford University’s Roger Griffin’s definition of ‘Palingenetic Ultranationalist Populism’ as the animating principles of Fascism. Palingenetic means ‘rising from the ashes, as the Phoenix’

Neiwert then notes some important additional factors: the hand-in-glove relationship of Fascism to Big Business (what he terms ‘Corporatism’), the valourisation of violence and the need of Fascist’s to regard themselves as reacting against Victimisation, persecution or repression (what I classify as the reactionary element of Fascism).

The purpose of Neiwert’s essay is to clearly define Fascism so that it may be recognised in nascent forms as well as its full-blown ‘mature’ form.

As Neiwert notes, the term ‘Fascist’ is grossly abused, mostly by the Left, and is usually delivered as an insult meaning nothing more than ‘authoritarian’. The destructive power and disease of Fascism is too deadly to allowed to obscured by lazy usage. Like ‘Genocide’, the appellation of ‘Fascism’ is too important to be misused. It’s a definition that needs to be kept sharp to remain useful.

Having defined Fascism and castigated the Left for misuse of the term Neiwert then spends the remainder of the essay discussing to what extent right-wing extremist groups in the USA have been accommodated by the Repunlican Party and to what extent the rhetoric and beliefs of the extreme right find everyday expression in Republican mainstream discourse. Its an interesting exploration.

That’s Enough About Him

I see Fascism as an opportunistic movement arising from crisis or flux. The pre-conditions have to be right for Fascism to erupt in the public imagination. A charismatic/redemptive leader is crucial.

The United States, in my opinion, has a greater potential to slide into Fascism than Australia, for a number of reasons:

• Their national image as a ‘nation of destiny’
• Their national image as an example to all nations, a leader of the world community,
a youthful, vigorous, vanguard, revolutionary nation free of the corrupting
accretions of senile cynical European leadership. (Old Europe v. New Europe)
• Highly patriotic and jingoistic
Great love of patriotic symbols such as the National Flag.
My country right or wrong. American pride: America must ‘walk tall’ cannot be in second place, cannot lower the flag (e.g at Olympics)
• Their belief in a transcendent American spirit and American values –
Values worth rediscovering/recovering/fighting )literally) for.
• Their national birth through revolution; hence national rebirth obtainable by revolution on the same principles.
• Unilateral. – Rejects United Nations, International Criminal Court
Approves of Torture as a means of achieving national goals.

• A Martial nation – Highly militaristic and militarized: which nation has military bases in 150 nations
around the world ?
• Presidential system with propensity to degenerate into a personality cult. Round the clock PR machine polishing/aggrandaisin the image.
• Significant racist undercurrent including White Supremacist groups
– a hangover from the Slave Trade and The South
• Big Business and Political classes are the same people (Corporatist) and integrated
to an extent far more openly than other Western nations.
• Highly inflammatory/irresponsible political rhetoric typified by Sarah Palin
• Domestic terrorist groups (Militias)

In a wry twist, the term ‘Palingenetic’ perfectly describes the overt aims of the GOP-derived ‘Tea Party’ movement, now identified with Sarah Palin, whose website and speech making contain highly distasteful and culpable affirmations of violent and forceful action against a corrupt political culture, perfectly synchronous with a Fasist template.

But, as Neiwert says, the GOP/Big Business are more interested in Money and Power than racism and fascism and neither the GOP nor Sarah Palin is not Fascist.

The accommodation of racist and/or extremist thinking, like the accommodation of Christian fundamentalist thinking in the GOP is a means to an end, not and end in itself. When/if Racism/warped Christian Fundmentalism (really pseudo-Christian white totalitarianism) becomes the end in itself, then the United States would have taken a stride toward Fascism.

So, in my view, many of the necessary elements for Fascism are present above mere trace levels in the USA.

They sorely need to regain a civilised political rhetoric in order to rein in some of the factors noted above.

Rhetoric vs. Reality

A colleague of mine made a very valid point about distinguishing between rhetoric and action. Even if the GOP is willing to trade in some of the rhetoric of the outer right it does not mean that the GOP is actually going to implement the policies of the outer right.

For example, Christian Fundamentalists began to desert the Republicans in the Obama election because they felt betrayed by the GOP. The GOP despite their rhetoric were not delivering on their (implicit) undertakings.

John Cain never talked about faith and seemed to be spiritually apathetic. Obama, OTOH seemed to be a real believer. So the Fundies began to drift toward the Democrats.

That was one reason why Palin was drafted in as Vice-Presidential nominee: she’s a bona-fide Christian Fundamentalist. She was bought in to stop that drift.

So, the question is, has there really been a rightward shift in American Politics even if one should happen to agree that there has been a rightward shift in rhetoric.

Well can a person clutch fire to their chest and not be burned ?

The Southern Strategy

The first rightward lunge by the GOP occurred under the Southern Strategy, of the 1960’s, developed by Nixon to appeal to white racists. That strategy resulted in a number of policies designed to appeal to racist sentiment; for example, ‘Forced Busing’ (to achieve racial desegregation) was dropped, ‘Law And Order’(meaning oppose Civil Rights Protest), and anti-welfare (meaning stop whites having to pay for Black welfare) policies were implemented.

The electioneering phrase for these programs taken together was ‘States Rights’ which harked back to the 1948 formation of the States Rights Democratic Party, formed by Southern Democrats to oppose the Civil Rights movement. Reagan resurrected ‘States Rights’ rhetoric in 1980, announcing his support for ‘States Rights’ in a township famous for the murder of three Civil Rights activists in 1964.

The success of The Southern Strategy inverted the racial orientation of American politics making the GOP, formerly the ‘Party Of Lincoln’ (i.e. racial emancipation) the racist-friendly party, forcing the formerly racist Democrats to a non-racist stance since they needed some Black Vote.

Reagan regenerated the Sothern Strategy, introducing a range of anti-welfare and taxation policies which he knew would be perceived as anti-black in the South. Here’s how his campaign advisor Lee Atwater,
later chairman of the Republican National Committee described it

Questioner: But the fact is, isn’t it, that Reagan does get to […]the racist side of the Wallace [i.e. Southern] voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. […]We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger

Reagan also gave racist private Universities access to certain tax exemptions which had been previously denied to them on the basis of discriminatory behaviour and opposed affirmative action and quotas. TV adverts showed a white hand crumpling a job rejection notice talking about quotas. In short, anti-welfare equals anti-Black to a Southern audience. Its a dogwhistle. The inclusion of States Rights delivers the code words infallibly.

As Atwater put it, The GOP is happy to be viewed as implementing economic measures to hurt blacks to appeal to whites.

The confluence of Reagan’s ideological anti-welfare leanings with his desire to appeal to white racists provides fig leaf cover for an argument that the appeal to racism is merely fortunate, a mere by-product of good economics. Though the disproportional effect on Blacks is recognised it is not intentional, in fact it is good or them, breaking the welfare cycle (and there is some truth in that).

In a similar vein one might say that the location of the ‘States Rights’ speech was merely fortunate, even planned, but not driven by any particular racist motivation.

Maybe so.

But Atwater admits to fostering the racist sentiment by choosing ‘States Rights’ as the vehicle by which to deliver these policies, which means that the GOP is happy to trade in racism in order to win office. They’re happy for racism to be associated with political leadership.

Which is reprehensible.

And dangerous.

Performance Artist Laurie Anderson describes the process of getting her voice synthesizers and experimental electronic musical instruments through Customs at the typical US airport:

“ (Anderson:) I was carrying a lot of electronics so I had to keep unpacking everything and plugging it in and demonstrating how it all worked, and I guess I did seem a little fishy — a lot of this stuff wakes up displaying LED program readouts that have names like Atom Smasher, and so it took a while to convince them that they weren’t some kind of espionage system.

So I’ve done quite a few of these sort of impromptu new music concerts for small groups of detectives and customs agents and I’d have to keep setting all this stuff up and they’d listen for a while

and they’d say: So uh, what’s this?
And I’d pull out something like this filter, and say,

now this is what I like to think of as the Voice Of Authority. And it would take me a while to tell them how I used it for songs that were, you know, about various forms of control, and they would say, now why would you want to talk like that?

And I’d look around at the SWAT teams, and the undercover agents, and the dogs, and the radio in the corner, tuned to the Super Bowl coverage of the war.

And I’d say, take a wild guess.

So says Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov, president of the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, who also happens to be President Of The World Chess Federation, FIDE

The man provides order,” he says, “he conquers countries, territories and oil wells. He gives the wells to the rich oil companies, making them even richer, and that’s completely okay. In fact it is quite possible that the world’s population will soon be living in a single, American state. As long as order and discipline prevail — what’s the problem?”

Ilyumzhinov comments on GW Bush displays the clarity of thought of the typical multi-billionaire dictator who has also been abducted by aliens. an experience he shares with Yukio Hatoyama, wife of the current prime Minister of Japan and possibly you.

Bush’s opinions on Ilyumzhinov are currently unknown.

Equal Rights For Multi-Billionaire Dictators NOW!!

The friendly and urbane statements of our beloved Kirsan Nikolayevich mask the desperate plea for justice common to oppressed multi-billionaire dictators everywhere, which is their heartbreak at not being provided unlimited protection, unlimited finance and a satisfactory Occupational Health and Safety compliant workplace as puppet monsters for globally projected US hegemonic power.

Ilyumzhinov has offerred an obvious plea to be invaded by the US, indeed have his country bombed to smithereens by SuperStealth bombers if required, in order that he can be relieved of the actual pressures of office and instead confine himself to making selections from a 10,000 item a la carte breakfast menu and bathe in Olympic Swimming Pool sized tubs of Baby Yaks Milk as befits a man of his position and proximity to the enormous Oil and Gas reserves of the Caspian Sea.

Its not quite enough to be a multi-billionaire dictator. One must be relieved of the blasted paperwork as well. Hence the cry of Ilyumzhinov’s heart – to become a US vassal state with himself as figurehead leader in perpetuity, with a 40% personal interest in his dreamt-of pipeline route to the Caspian Oil and Gas fields, as vindicated by his personal fortune-teller.

Justice for Kalmykia – we too wish to be bombed!

You know it makes sense.

The Touching Innocence Of Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly’s piece in The Australian, 10 April-2004 entitled “Damage In Isolation” contains an odd criticism of Mark Latham’s foreign policy speech to the Lowy Institute made on the 7 April previous. Kelly writes

“[Latham’s speech] says nothing about the value of the US role in the world or the US as a force for good. Nothing.”

By “a force for good” Kelly presumably means that the USA is devoted to foreign policy goals incorporating the furtherment of democracy and human rights around the world, the relief of suffering, humanitarian aid and so on.

In contrast, in the same article Kelly considers China to be something less than a force for good and chastises Latham and the ALP for “a touching innocence about China that seems devoid of critical assessment.”

But who is the innocent: Latham or Kelly? Is the US really “a force for good”? Since Kelly’s article on Latham was written in the broader context of Latham’s call to return Australian troops from Iraq I will restrict my comments to recent US policy and actions there.

The US actively supported the murderous Saddam Hussein during the period of his worst crimes including his mass killings of Kurds by gas attack.

Throughout the 1980’s the US provided military equipment to Saddam along with strategy advice and intelligence, acted decisively to prevent Iranian victory in the Iraq/Iran war, donated billions of dollars in financial aid, sold Saddam chemical agents including VX Nerve Gas and Anthrax and underwrote his Ballistic weapons programs. The CIA even calibrated Saddam’s Mustard Gas weapons for use against Iran.

The USA blamed Iran, not Iraq, for the notorious Halabja gas attacks knowing the truth to be different. Even after a U.S. delegation travelled to Turkey at the request of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in mid-late 1988 and confirmed that Iraq “was using chemical weapons on its Kurdish population” the State Department was urging closer relations with Saddam In Sept. 1988 the Reagan administration overturned its own Senate’s “Prevention of Genocide Act” which would have made Iraq ineligible to receive U.S. loans, military and non-military assistance, credits, credit guarantees, and items subject to export controls. In Oct. 1989 President Bush signed National Security Directive 26 providing Iraq with a further $1bn in aid amongst further significant support.

The US was not in the least concerned about the mass killings of Kurds under Saddam. The US at the time was pro-Saddam in order to prevent the rise of Iran as a regional hegemon. The Kurds were completely expendable in the face of the Iranian threat to the greatest strategic asset in the world, namely, Middle East oil.

The US committed numerous atrocities during the first Gulf War including the following:

• Cluster bombing in civilian areas
• Deliberate withholding of medicines and medical equipment from hospitals
• Destruction of civilian water supplies
• Use of radioactive weapons

Contrary to US and British claims, the no-fly zones instituted after the first Gulf War were not designed to protect the Kurds or the Marsh Arabs, Turkish troops and aircraft regularly entered the northern no-fly zone covering Iraqi Kurdistan to bomb and kill in the Northern zone while the US and British stood aside.

Similarly, in the Southern zone, Iraqi troop movements were not prohibited, not even Iraqi military helicopters, only Iraqi jets. Hence, US and British planes circled overhead or stayed grounded while Saddam marched in with customary brutality to crush the 1998 rebellion.

The consequences were devastating. Hussein’s forces levelled the historical centres of the Shiite towns, bombarded sacred Shiite shrines and executed thousands on the spot. By some estimates 100,000 people died in reprisal killings between March and September. Many of these atrocities were committed in proximity to American troops, who were under orders not to intervene. The extra concession to allow Iraqi military helicopters into the Southern No-Fly zone but not the Northern was obviously made to facilitate Saddam’s massacre of the Marsh Arabs. (Peter W. Galbraith, “The Ghosts of 1991”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A10874-2003Apr11?language=printer”)

The trigger for the latest US invasion of Iraq was the infamous 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, not concern for democracy or human rights. The US Administration moved quickly to make political capital out of the sorrow and anger amongst the public to blame the attacks on Iraq in a knowing untruth and so justify their invasion.

Many of the charges about supposed Iraqi WMD’s “dangled in front of [the media] failed the laugh test,” the editor of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists commented, “but the more ridiculous [they were,] the more the media strove to make whole-hearted swallowing of them a test of patriotism.” (Linda Rothstein, editor BAS, July 2003).

The propaganda assault had its effects. Within weeks, a majority of Americans came to regard Saddam Hussein as an imminent threat to the US. Soon almost half believed that Iraq was behind the 9/11 terror. Support for the war correlated with these beliefs. (Noam Chomsky, “Preventive War ‘the Supreme Crime’: Iraq invasion that will live in infamy”, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=4030)

In September 2002, Donald Rumsfeld explicitly tied the need to invade Iraq to the 9/11 bombings in this testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

Senator Mark Dayton: “What is it compelling us now to make a precipitous decision and take precipitous actions?”
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld: “What’s different? What’s different is 3,000 people were killed.”

Former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack got enormous media exposure in late 2002 for his book “The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq.” During a typical CNN appearance, Pollack explained why he had come to see a “massive invasion” of Iraq as both desirable and practical:

“The real difference was the change from September 11th. The sense that after September 11th, the American people were now willing to make sacrifices to prevent threats from abroad from coming home to visit us here made it possible to think about a big invasion force.”

Western power is not committed to democracy in Iraq. In calling for the “people of Iraq” to overthrow Saddam following the first Gulf War, President Bush was really calling for a military coup – another Saddam, but an obedient Saddam. This is admitted by the US itself and seconded by the British:

“We clearly would have preferred a coup. There’s no question about that,” – Bush’s national security adviser Brent Scowcroft Interview on ABC News, 26 June 1997

I don’t recall asking the Kurds to mount this particular insurrection ….We hope very much that the military in Iraq will remove Saddam Hussein” – British Prime Minister John Major, ITN interview, 4 April, 1991

“..for very practical reasons there was never a promise to aid an uprising. While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf.” – President Bush and Brent Scowcroft, Time Magazine, 2 March

In summary the US is willing to countenance mass killings including the extermination of a half a million children, use radioactive weapons, cluster bomb in civilian areas, destroy civilian water supplies, deprive civilians of medicines, sell Nerve Gas and Anthrax, build the Ballistic weapons program of a megalomaniac dictator, back military coups and lie to its own population and the world community. And that’s just in Iraq.

Latham has excellent reasons for not eulogizing the US as a force for good. It is Kelly that is the innocent, but I am not certain that this innocence is “touching”.

Kelly is a very influential journalist with access to a large newspaper readership and appears regularly as a mainstream commentator on national TV. His views on US, Iraq and Australia reach into every home. As such his views on the proper attitude of Australia politicians toward US policy (rhapsodous praise) have the potential to influence the entire polity. It is therefore alarming that Kelly’s naivety is so far removed from the truth about US realpolitik and imperial ambitions.

Kelly does not settle for quiet agreement or even a lack of criticism in regard to US foreign policy. The proper attitude for Australian politicians in regard to the USA in Kelly’s view is unrestrained applause.

Latham didn’t describe the US as a ‘force for evil’ or less emotively, ‘an outlaw terrorist state’. He just didn’t say they were a force for good. Does Kelly expect our pollies as a matter of obligation or respect for the Australia-US alliance to repeat US propaganda verbatim regardless of what they may or may not believe?

Perhaps as Editor-at-large of The Australian Kelly is beholden to his employer, Rupert Murdoch, to toe his line in political articles. Did Kelly attend the Cancun conference for Murdoch editors and commentators addressed by Bush’s National Security Adviser Condaleeza Rice ? A directive to present the US as “a force for good” sounds like just the sort of “editorial guideline” you’d expect in an internal memo or media briefing paper. Unfortunately the results of this appalling ”innocence” impact disgracefully on our ability to make informed votes and hence the practice of our democracy.

PostScript
Turning now to the actual use of the phrase “the price is worth it,” we come to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s reply to Lesley Stahl’s question on “60 Minutes” on May 12, 1996:

Stahl: “We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And–you know, is the price worth it?”

Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Sources:

Paul Kelly, “Damage in Isolation:, The Australian, April 10, 2004, http://theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,9233174%255E12250,00.htmlLast Accessed, Apr-21-2004-04

Eric Herring, “The No Fly Zones in Iraq: The Myth of a Humanitarian Intervention*, via http://uk.geocities.com/dstokes14/Eric/eric.htm, Last Accessed 15-Apr-2004
Sarah Graham-Brown, “No-Fly Zones: Rhetoric and Real Intentions”, http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/2001/0220nofl.htm, Last Accessed Apr-15-2004
Norman Solomon, “Exploiting Anxiety: The Political Capital of 9/11”, http://www.counterpunch.org/solomon09112003.html, Last Accessed Apr-15-2004
Peter W. Galbraith, “The Ghosts of 1991”, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A10874-2003Apr11?language=printer”, Last Accessed 15-Apr-2004

Center For Co-Operative Research, “US Support for Iraq in the 1980s”, http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/globalissue/usforeignpolicy/iraq1980scontent.html, Last Accessed 15-Apr-2004-04-15

Noam Chomsky, “Preventive War ‘the Supreme Crime’: Iraq invasion that will live in infamy”, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=4030, Last Accessed 15-Apr-2004

George Bush Sr. and Brent Scowcroft, “Why We Didn’t Remove Saddam”, Time 2 March 1998, posted on http://www.thememoryhole.org/mil/bushsr-iraq.htm, Last Accessed Apr-15-2004

Rahul Mahajan, :”’We Think the Price Is Worth It’: Media uncurious about Iraq policy’s effects- there or here”, http://www.fair.org/extra/0111/iraq.html, Last Accessed Apr-15-2004

What’s With Them Rednecks ?

It is occasionally noted during discussions of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) that Creationists are a stronghold of AGW Denialism. For example, The Guardian (UK) ran an article in April 2009 entitled “Just What Is It With Evangelical Christians And Global Warming” citing a survey from the Pew Forum On Religion and Public Life which showed only 34% of US White Evangelical Christians accept the AGW hypothesis.

Here is an extract from the Pew survey of 1,502 Americans, which has a sampling error of plus/minus 3%

Percentage of Americans who believe in AGW:

Total Sample: Yes 47% No 45% Don’t Know 8%
Non-Religious: Yes 58% No 35% Don’t Know 7%
White Mainline Protestants: Yes 48% No 44% Don’t Know 8%
White Evangelicals: Yes 34% No 55% Don’t Know 11%

What Is The Correlative Factor ?

Given that Pew found that the rate of acceptance of AGW amongst the Evangelicals was significantly lower than that of the general population and in view of the fact that Creationists would be more strongly respresented in this group than the others, it is fair to assume that the correlation between Creationism and anti-AGW exists. This being the case, what is the correlative factor ? What is it about US Creationists that predisposes them to reject AGW ?

The Wall Street Journal of Sept. 28, 2007 ran an interesting article, “Split Over Global Warming Widens Among Evangelicals”. In this article the views of pro- and anti-AGW Evangelicals are canvassed and the following anti-AGW viewpoints/rationales given:

– Senior US Evangelicals believe that AGW distracts clergy/believers from their core responsibility to elucidate Jesus’ message. A similar argument has been advanced by Cardinal Pell of the Catholic Church in Australia.
– Theological reasons advanced against AGE by certain Evangelicals.
– White Evangelicals are overwhelmingly Republicans hence toe party line.
– Conservative inertia. Southern Baptist Convention cites Climate Change not settled among scientists. 50 years ago refused to acknowledge Racism as an issue.

In my opinion the correlative factor between Creationists and anti-AGW is that of political allegiance to the Republican Party, the third factor cited in the Wall St. Journal article.

Creationist and Republican

The Religious Right is a constituency of the Republican Party. In the 2008 US General Election 73% of Evangelicals voted Republican according to the Pew Research Centre in this article, Voting Religiously

Republicans, Republican Pastors and AGW

The Republican Party is haven and wellspring for anti-AGW ideology.
Environment Magazine in Sept/Oct 2008 carried an article entitled “A Widening Gap: Democratic and Republican Views On Climate Change”. In data, data sourced from Gallup Polls showed that only 40% of Republicans subscribed to AGW compared to 72% of Democrats.

In a similar vein, Pew Research Centre in Oct. 2009 found that belief amongst AGW is very low amongst Republicans. In April 2008, Pew found only 27% of Republicans subscribe to AGW, dropping to 18% in Oct. 2009. The comparitive figures for Democrats were 58% and 50%.

Despite the disparity between the Gallup and Pew figures, both polls make clear that Republicans are far less likely to subscribe to AGW than Democrats.

To summarize the Pew Data:
27% of Republicans believed in AGW as of April 2008
18% of Republicans believed in AGW as of October 2009
34% of Evangelicals (mostly Creationists) believed in AGW as of April 2009.
73% of Evangelicals vote Republican.

In general terms then: Creationist correlates to Republican correlates to anti-AGW.

Some hard data which supports the above correlative chain comes from Lifeway Research, an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. They polled 1,002 pastors and found that the more conservative their political beliefs, the more likely they were to reject AGW. The research appears in their article LifeWay Research studies global warming beliefs among Protestant pastors

When the pastors’ personal beliefs are factored in, the differences grow even more pronounced. Among pastors who consider their political ideology liberal or very liberal, 93 percent agree that global warming is real and man-made, and 79 percent of self-perceived moderates agree. Among those who identify themselves as conservative or very conservative politically, however, agreement is only 37 percent and 16 percent respectively

Disseminating Republican AGW Denialism To Creationists

The Religious Right (RR) has a very effective network of radio and television stations through which it can disseminate its opinions to members and sympathizers. These TV and Radio networks are controlled by the older members of the RR who are more conservative and more pro-Republican than the younger members.

AGW represents a massive challenge to the economies of the West, addicted as they are to chronic over-consumption. For the Republican Party, with its array of prominent financiers and backers from Big Oil, AGW represents a second and even more immediately serious challenge which is how to maintain the legitimacy of unlimited Oil Production and Consumption. AGW represents a threat to the power, money, authority and thus the very survival of the Republican Party. These challenges can only be met by de-legitimizing AGW.

Fissures In The Religious Right Over AGW

From the Pew figures it can be seen that Evangelicals, and hence Creationists, are less likely to reject AGW than the average Republican. (34% vs. 22% approx.)

During the 2008 US Federal Election campaign, fissures in the Religious Right began to appear as younger members began to assert their agreement with the AGW hypothesis and pressure Evangelical organisations to adopt AGW platforms and practices.

The younger Creationists turned to the Biblical concept of ‘stewardship’, a centuries old cross-denominational position on mankind’s relationship to the environment to support their notion of ‘Creation Care’ and argue for an AGW-friendly agenda in the RR media and secretariat.

For Senior Evangelics acceptance of AGW represented a second-order heresy of ‘turning Democrat’ the party not only of Al Gore, whose entire political career was predicated around the environment and Climate Change, but also associated in their minds with Gay Rights and Abortion.

Those that control the RR, with their established links to Republican politicians and centres of influence use theri position and control of RR resources to broadcast their anti-AGW opinions at the expense of pro-AGW opinions to the Evangelical rank-and-file.

The Contempt Of The Left For The Bible And Christianity

It is sometimes posited by left-leaning journalists and bloggers that the Creationists are anti-AGW for theological reasons: that Creationists believe the Bible teaches anti-AGW, or that Creationists are simply anti- or non-scientific because the Bible, itself putatively an anti-scientific document is the arbiter of truth for them.

Such leftists group Creationism and anti-AGW as equally non-scientific beliefs. Creationists are held to be innocently or defiantly ignorant of good science. A contempt for Creationists is apparent among many leftists, prominent in this contempt being the general refusal of Creationists to accept the Theory Of Evolution as incontrovertible fact. This contemptuous tone is very evident in the Guardian article cited above.

The contempt of leftists for Creationists leads them to attempt to locate the reasons for Creationist anti-AGW sentiment in the Bible, a document leftists love to mock as being non-scientific, not least because it is the source for the Creationist position.

The desire of leftists to mock and ridicule the Bible thus causes them to overlook the most obvious reason for US Creationists being anti-AGW. They are Republicans.

Theological ‘Proofs’ For Anti-AGW

To be fair to leftists, it is absolutely true that theological ‘proofs’ are used by certain prominent Creationists to argue against AGW.

But the quality of these ‘proofs’ is very poor, suggesting that theological argument is being coerced from the Scripture by certain Creationsists in order to to buttress a political (anti-AGW) position, rather than being derived inductively from Scripture. These Creationists are trying to force the Bible to say something that it really doesn’t say.

In short, anti-AGW interperetations are being retro-fitted onto Scripture by those with motive to coerce such interperetations from the Bible.

A theological ‘proof’ for anti-AGW is very palatable to the senior RR movers and shakers as it allows them to reconcile their Political and Theological ideologies into a coherent whole and stave off leadership and/or policy challenges from younger members.

Consequently, senior RR members allow such ‘proofs’ airtime or print space and leftists gleefully pounce on these theologically impoverished proofs to support their own bias, that the Bible is anti-Scientific and to give them further excuse to ridicule Scripture and Christians (not that they generally need much encouagement).

But again, to be fair, most leftists do not have sufficient Biblical literacy to properly evaluate theological argument.

Theology and Anti-AGW

The concept of Dominion as expressed by certain Creationists to theologically disprove AGW relies on a highly innovative understanding of Dominion. It is in fact so ‘innovative’ that I suspect that it has been invented expressly to cover the proponents real objections to AGW which I would say is that it challenges the rapacious corporate-government ‘free market’ paradigm beloved of the Republican Party.

The US Evangelical organisation Cornwall Alliance, a faith-based ant-AGW advocacy group, strongly infer that the Dominion of Humankind over Earth means that Humans can only ever be an agent for improvement in the natural environment and never an agent of destruction.

Cornwall, quoted in the Guardian article say:

Many people mistakenly view humans as principally consumers and polluters rather than producers and stewards. Consequently, they ignore our potential, as bearers of God’s image, to add to the earth’s abundance… Our position, informed by revelation and confirmed by reason and experience, views human stewardship that unlocks the potential in creation for all the earth’s inhabitants as good. Humanity alone of all the created order is capable of developing other resources and can thus enrich creation, so it can properly be said that the human person is the most valuable resource on earth… While some environmental concerns are well founded and serious, others are without foundation or greatly exaggerated… Some unfounded or undue concerns include fears of destructive manmade global warming, overpopulation, and rampant species loss.

The concept that humans can only ever exercise a positive effect on the natural environment is not taught in scripture. What is taught is that it is God’s mandate and gift to humanity that we, of all creatures, have the primary responsibility for the care of the planet and the most capacity to enjoy its beauty and wonder, as it was prepared very much for mankind’s enjoyment, but not solely for that purpose, as other scriipture goes on to tell us.

Other creationists teach, as did for example John Shimkus, a Republican House Of Representatives member testifying before the US House SubCommitte On Energy And The Environment in March 2009, that since God is sovereign, only He can destroy the planet, not humanity, thus AGW cannot be real.

Shimkus also ingeniously posited that AGW cannot be real because it would cause a second Noah’s Flood, which God said He would not do. This ignores the fact that God is not causing AGW (note that ‘A’).

Theologically Agnostic To Climate

Finally on climate and theology, it has been sometimes posited that Evangelicals are anti-mitigationist because they believe in The Rapture (thus it doesn’t matter what happens to the climate) or because they are looking forward to the destruction of the planet beause that’s when Jesus will return.

It is plain that the first belief should not be correlated to anti-AGW as it renders the entire debate moot, while the second could easily lead to a pro-AGW position because it makes Jesus’ return more likely to be sooner.

To Summarize

Creationism correlates to an anti-AGW belief because Creationists are Republicans.

Creationists are less likely than most Republicans to be anti-AGW because traditional Christian concepts of stewardship undermine the Republican position that humans are not responsible for Climate Change.

Theological arguments in support of anti-AGW exist but are theologically impoverished. Their role is to reconcile the political beliefs of Republicans with the Bible, but do not successfully do so.

The Author Speaks

I contacted the author of the Guardian article, Leo Hickman, and said I felt he had left out the obvious fact that Evangelicals are Republicans. He was kind enough to reply and said:

Not sure why I didn’t make that direct reference at the time but I think perhaps I felt many would make that link instinctively.

In other words, its obvious.

In which case the opening sentence of Mr. Hickman’s article just looks more like he’s enjoying putting the boots into Christians due to standard leftist antipathy. That sentence:

Just what is it with evangelical Christians and global warming? I
doubt we’re ever going to get a satisfying answer to this long-running
question…

So Why Do Creationists Vote Republican ?

Evangelicals have identified with the Republican Party since the 1960’s. Prior to that time they were politically disengaged, but several issues coincided in the 60’s, to make Evangelicals identify with the Republican Party as the party of traditional Christian morality.

These isues were the advent of a the Catholic presendential candidate, John F. Kennedy, fielded by the Democrats, the rise of the 1960’s counter-culture with its ‘progressive’ social views and libertarian sexual morality and Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion and banning prayer in schools.

This identification solidified during Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign and presidency such that by 1984 the formation of the Evangelicals as a Republican Party constituency was completed in the form we know today.

While, the Evangelical vote is overwhelmingly Republican, it is not monolithic. African American Evangelicals (15% of all Evangelicals) vote Democrat because they place jobs and the economy of higher electoral importance than Abortion and issues of traditional morality.

As noted above, in recent times the younger Evangelical vote has fissured from the more conservative older generation. The younger generation of evangelicals did not favour the Iraq War and are AGW-friendly. Only 45% of younger Evangelicals were in favour of the Bush administration during 2008.

In general, however, Evangelicals vote Republican because they see the Republican Party as caring more for issues of concern to them. A survey commissioned by the Barna Group in January 2008 and reported at World Net Daily found:

Evangelicals’ top concern – by a wide margin – was abortion (94 percent). This was followed by the personal debt of Americans (81 percent), the content of television and movies (79 percent), homosexual activists (75 percent), and gay and lesbian lifestyles (75 percent,)”

So, Why Are Evangelicals Sceptical About Global Warming ?

From, Evangelicals Go “Green” with Caution, Barna Group, Sept. 2008

In particular, evangelicals express the greatest caution regarding their perception that media has hyped the story (65%), their belief that cyclical climate change is not primarily caused by human activity (62%), and their concern that proposed solutions would hurt the poor, especially in other countries (60%).

While Evangelicals enunciate specific objections to the AGW or mitigationist view , the overall picture given by history and data is that the Evangelicals associate the AGW hypothesis with the Democratic Party and its legions of godless liberals.

AGW is perceived as a Democrat cause along with Gay Rights, Abortion, and the banning of prayer. On the other hand, the party that Evangelicals identify with and trust, the Republican Party is anti-AGW. The specific reasons given by Evangelicals to oppose AGW are Republican Party propaganda points.

Sure, Evangelicals do not say ‘I oppose AGW because the Republican Party say so’, but that is in effect the case.

The Basic Issue Is Trust

…and Evangelicals do not trust the Democratic Party.

An evangelical couple from Texas, Katharine Heyhoe and Andrew Fairley who are respectively a climate change scientist and a pastor have specifically identified lack of trust as central in Evangelical resistance to the AGW hypothesis.

They have wrotten a book aimed at answering questions commonly put to them by the Evangelical community.

When it comes to conservative Christians, I think the real question is who can we trust on this issue?” Farley said. “The scientist who has opposed us in the past, perhaps on issues such as evolution versus creation? Can we trust the local radio talk-show host on conservative radio who seems to be vehemently opposed to the idea that climate change is happening and speaks out quite passionately? Should I trust my local pastor who has a B-minus in high school biology?”

Many of the questions put by Evangelicals are recycled from the arguments of conservative celebrities who act wittingly or not as Republican Party functionaries

“Glenn Beck is saying this, Laura Ingraham is saying that, Rush Limbaugh is saying this, and these people are well-respected in conservative communities, so where are these talk-show hosts wrong and how can you show that they’re wrong with data, not slick talk?” [Fairley] said.

Older Evangelicals will not abandon the Republican Party while it is their personal Hezbollah (Party Of God), nor will they abandon their mistrust of the godless Democratic Party.

While these factors are salient and the Republican Party opposes AGW, so will older Evangelicals.

But the younger generation is moving on and this is fuelled in part by the Bible because its natural reading on the environment supports an ecology-friendly approach to living. The tortured, coerced and debased Dominion Theology used by Republican Party loyalists in the Evangelical movement falls to pieces in the face of the genuine article.

You often hear the term ‘left-liberal’ but almost never ‘right-liberal’.

Here’s John Howard slagging off the ‘left-liberal’ media in front of his mates at the American Enterprise Institute:

But perhaps the most convincing sign of all that some progress has been made is the significant decline in media coverage of Iraq – noticeable both in the United States and Australia. The dominant left-liberal elements in the media in both our countries apparently cannot bring themselves to acknowledge good news stories coming out of Baghdad.

Left-Liberal v. Right-Liberal

As an exercise, try Googling ‘left-liberal’. You will get a huge number of hits.
Now try Googling “right-liberal”. Very few hits. Why ?

In my opinion the reason for this is that the political discourse in the USA and, latterly Australia, has been dragged so far to the right that liberals are no longer recognised. Small-‘l’ liberals are no longer accommodated in the public discourse.

There is no room for them because the political discourse in Australia over a decade was dominated by Howard and in the USA by the Republicans/Democrats, none of whom are small-l liberals, but right-wing either conservatives or ideologues. For Howard and the power-wielding core in the Republicans and Democrats there are precious few questions left to be answered about political economy and society. The debate is over. Hence there is no more need for critique, small-l liberals or, in fact, Liberalism.

Critique, which is a hallmark of Liberalism is thought instead to be evidence of leftism. Small-‘l’ liberals have had their political habitat destroyed by the rightward shift in the polity and have become extinct. Hence the political arm of ruling class (which is a Business-Corporate Polyarchy) and, under their tutelage, the general public have progressively forgotten what Liberalism entails and what it means to be a Liberal Democracy. In today’s polity of the USA and Australia, a small-l liberal is sighted about as frequently as Wasabi Paste in your grandmother’s lamb roast, and, to the ruling class, is about as disgusting (bordering on treacherous).

This article by Tom Switzer, a former senior Liberal advisor and a research fellow for the Institute of Public Affairs (an Australian cousin of the AEI), writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, appears to concur with my thoughts that the Australian polity has drifted rightward, approaching the topic from an ideological perspective opposite to mine.

notwithstanding the loss of conservative government, the centre of political gravity in Australia remains conservative. No longer, for instance, is welfare seen as an unconditional right. No longer are activist judges rewriting our constitution. No longer are Australians ashamed of our past, pessimistic about our future and unsure about our place in the world. In this environment, why should Liberals lurch left when Labor could only win power by moving right?

To Republican voters, Obama’s comment to ‘Joe The Plumber’ that taxes and redistribution of wealth might serve a useful purpose was seen as tantamount to Socialism or even Communism. This is an indication that the Republican Party is defining the political ground in the USA to telescope everything leftward of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School into ‘hard-left’.

In Australia, the climate is not so dire. John Howard merely believed that all the media (see above) and all Universities (see below) are dominated by the ‘soft left’.

JOHN HOWARD: Despite a more diverse and lively intellectual environment in Australia compared with past decades, we should not underestimate the degree to which the soft left still holds sway, even dominance, especially in Australia’s universities.

In his stultifying presence none of Howard’s party colleagues had the guts to disagree and so Howard’s rather crazed ideological/cultural stance, shared by Quadrant and the IPA became increasingly entrenched in the public sphere, thus providing Tom Switzer with that nice afterglow which permeates his SMH article.

Liberalism – Not Dead But Coughing Up Blood

So, as I was saying, in the context of the rightward shift of the polity in the USA/Australia, anyone who critiques the approach or policy principles of a government is assumed to be a leftist.

Thus the media, which centrally exists to critique, is deemed ‘left-liberal’ simply because it critiques and because it critiques it is thought to be ‘dominated’ (Howard’s term above) or controlled by leftists.

In fact, Howard and his ideological fellows in the AEI are not only non-liberal but anti-liberal. For them, critique only emenates from enemies, not from peers with different and equally valid conceptions of how economics and society should be arranged. For Howard and the AEI the media is an adversary which must be contained, disciplined and controlled. For Howard and the AEI, critique of their views is a sign of a sick mind infected by ‘cant, hypocrisy and moral vanity’, as Howard described the left which for him, supposedly dominates the media.

‘Right-liberal’ is an almost non-existent category because if you are a ‘conservative’ (in Howard’s terms) you do not critique except to say that the government is correct but has not gone far enough with its (basically good because rightward) policies. Such voices are those of friends. They are not critiquing the basic wisdom or ethics of the rightward agenda, just wishing for even more of the good stuff.

Liberalism is centrally about freedom of expression, toleration and debate of different viewpoints. For Howard and the American Enterprise Institute the debate is over. They are anti-liberal. The Right is absolutely right to the point of self-evidence. Hence the only liberals are left-liberals.