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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 4:35amSanction this postReply
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Chris, it's very late at night, and I'm more than ready to sleep -- so I haven't finished reading your article; I shall do so tomorrow. But I read the first paragraph, and I want you to tell me you didn't mean what it seems to mean.

You wrote: "Abu Ghraibgate—a prison torture scandal in which American troops engaged in conduct unbecoming while interrogating Iraqi POWS—is just starting to have a deleterious effect on the President’s popularity. News of that scandal, however, has been tempered slightly by the release of a graphic video depicting the murder of American Nick Berg by rabid jihadists screaming 'Allahu Akbar'—'God is Great.'"

Surely you don't mean that the scandal of the unpleasantness at Abu Ghraibgate is legitimately only "tempered slightly" by videos coldly taken by terrorists which show them cutting off the head of an innocent man? I can't believe you could mean that there is the least similarity -- in morality or in reason or in justice or in humanity -- between the two events.

Please tell me I've misread you.

Barbara



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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 4:46amSanction this postReply
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Excuse Me! Are you acutally playing that age-old game of 'what I did may have been wrong, but what you did was much more wrong, so my wrong is negligible'? How about I come over to your place, knock out your president and his cabinet/advisers/warpropagators and then plead 'innocent' to the UN-courts: 'What I did was wrong, but what they did was waaayyy more wrong, so my guilt can be excused!'. Hey - I might even get a medal for ridding the world of the 'monster lurking in the Bushes' :-)
(hint: I prefer platinum to gold)
VSD




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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 5:21amSanction this postReply
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Barbara, what I wrote was strictly in the context of the President's popularity rating.  I said that news of the scandal had been "tempered slightly" by the Berg murder (and I do call that Berg video a "reprehensible ... snuff film" later on in the article), thus offsetting some of the negative press the President was getting.

News of the scandal---not the scandal itself.  For the record, I condemn both the torturing of prisoners and the murder of Nicholas Berg, though, of course, there is no comparison between disgusting, humiliating treatment of prisoners and actual murderMurder is murder.  In my vision of justice, those who are mistreated horrifically in a prison might live to sue for civil damages; those who are dead can't. (And, certainly, I would treat the murder of any Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib with the same sense of justice.)

Remember that this piece was written in May; remember that the airwaves were dominated by the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal.  It was that daily broadcasting that was starting to have a deleterious effect on the President's popularity---with calls for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation and such.  Well, as I predicted in this article, whatever troubles Rumsfeld was facing, he would remain at his post.  And, I think, when all is said and done, so will the President---for another four years.




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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 5:23amSanction this postReply
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Barbara,

I can see why, "late at night," you might have gotten the impression that prompted the question, "Surely you don't mean that the scandal of the unpleasantness at Abu Ghraibgate is legitimately only "tempered slightly" by videos coldly taken by terrorists which show them cutting off the head of an innocent man?"

I did not get the impression, at all, that is what Chris implied. He is talking only about the influence the news is having on public opinion. He is making no comparison between the moral relationship in the two events. The affect on the public, which I think Chris correctly assesses, is not the same as your, or my, or Chris' moral judgement of the two events. There is really no moral basis for comparing them at all.

I'm making my point, intentionally before Chris responds, to show a different reading is possible. I suspect Chris will say that was his intention.

Regi




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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 6:44amSanction this postReply
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Chris,

You could at least have waited 'til my post cleared before posting your response, now what I said looks stupid. Thanks!

However, since you agree with me, I'll forgive you!

Oh, by the way, and don't let this go to your head, you were positively prescient about Rumsfeld, because your entire analysis is a good one. Really enjoyed the article, which makes the point that cannot be made too often, that oppression is oppression, no matter what flavor it comes in, and our American government is now an oppressive one, and the political campaigns have come down to marketing campaigns for the most palatable form of theft, and who can promise the most unearned benefit to the most voters. 

Regi





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Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 9:22amSanction this postReply
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I'm not as cynical as Chris is. I think Bush will lose his election. Granted, I've only been watching politics for 11 years. but during those 11 years I have witnessed the same thing over and over again: when politicians run deficits and increase government spending they lose their reelection. That was the case with George Bush Sr. in 1992, and with the democratic congress in 1994. Clinton started out opposed to a balanced budget, but after months of abysmal ratings in the polls he reversed himself and ended up winning by a landslide in 1996. I admit that the war may change things somewhat, but I don't think it will allow Bush to win. He's going to face a huge boycott from fiscal conservatives, who will either vote for Michael Badnarik or just simply stay home on election day. I admit that Kerry is no better of a candidate, but still think that a weakened and divided U.S. government with two different parties fighting over control will be good for the freedom of Americans. More importantly, an electoral failure will cause Republicans to think twice about deserting their principles again.

--------------------Tom Blackstone

http://tomsphilosophy.tripod.com




Post 6

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 10:55amSanction this postReply
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In response to this Abu Ghraib incident and what Barbara has said, I want to say this:

By the time that Abu Ghraib happened, the citizens of the United States had seen 2,873? of its citizens incinerated and crushed to death in the most calamitous horror any of us had ever seen in real life. 

They have seen those who are responsible for this crime get away scot-free, and millions of Muslims around the world cheering and hugging each other in demented glee.  They have witnessed and endured the gratuitous slaughter of kinsmen and family by subscribers to a grotesque ideological presence that is utterly everywhere and nowhere at once... in hiding, laughing and snickering at us for what?  Our goodness.

With all of this having been done to us, certain of our troops have had enough... they would be sheep no more.  Bullied no more.  When they got ahold of some of these sneaky, mustached weasels, yes... they got sadistic... and bully for them.  

Hell yeah, I said it!  BULLY FOR THEM.  They forced a little "aversive therapy" on those sadistic, sneaky bastards... they forced a sense of consequence upon them.  They presented them with the hefty bill for all the sick pleasures that they've been so richly enjoying at our troops' expense, out there in the burning, goddamn sun, to cross entire oceans to deal with a people who will not restrain themselves and who cannot -- or will not -- get their cultural shit together!

What's more, I'm going to right here and right now introduce a new concept pair into our value set:  ethical versus unethical sadism

An unethical sadist is a coward who enjoys torturing -- and not in a merely cute or playful way --  someone who has done nothing to anyone, and who by all rights is merely a good, decent, and trusting person... but to the unethical sadist, a ready plaything, an "easy mark".  This is the spirit of al Qaeda:  unethical sadism. 

Disregard their pretty speeches about "righteous avenging" and what... those causes are false, and they know this, but they know that they won't get the tacit support of the ethical if they actually come out and say "Well, hell, our victims have done nothing to us... We just do it for shits and giggles, and hide behind our religion 'commanding us' to do so".

In contrast, an ethical sadist is one who yes, does enjoy causing suffering... but only of unethical sadists.  In truth, ethical sadism is a true mode of avenging.  It bears out under the weight of evidence that its actions are justified, where unethical sadism does not.  When a vicious, sneaky weasel gets his rocks off by torturing you, you hurt the bastard... You make the fucker SUFFER.... AND YOU ENJOY THAT HE IS SUFFERING. 

You do not hold his hand and sing "Kumbaya"... Of course, he wants you to do that, so he can hurt you some more.  You do not hold a "pow-wow" and get to know each other's inner child.  He's laughing at you.  But if you become his worst, everlasting nightmare, he'll thank you and love you for it. 

Bullies work that way... they are fundamentally cowards who only respect and cherish vulgar domination.  Where there is a vacuum of this, they punish those around them for not assuming that role, by creating the need for a Marshall Dillon, by becoming a local menace that must be stopped. 

The only way to really earn the respect of an unethical sadist, is to show him that you have the same dark side that he does, and much more of it... and that if he really wants it, you will be more than happy to drive some cruelty up his ass as fast and furious as a Ferrari. 

So, Abu Ghraib?  Pffff!.... please.  They have contempt for us, not because of it, but because we are ambivalent about it.





Post 7

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 11:22amSanction this postReply
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Personally I hope Bush does win!

MH




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Post 8

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 12:20pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks for your response, Chris. I'm relieved that you cleared this up for me.

Barbara



Post 9

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 2:23pmSanction this postReply
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My sense is that it will be another squeaker, but that Bush will win by a higher margin and the Democrats won't be able to claim he stole the election.



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Post 10

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 1:33pmSanction this postReply
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Orion ... talk about knee-jerk reactions to loaded topics ... I can agree with you as far as the bullies playing domination games because they did not find a stronger bully to kick their asses (your usual weakling game actually) ... I fully agree, that we need to reclaim our dark sides, our desire for retaliation, vengeance (preferrably of a rationally justifiable kind if that still needs to be said) ... your argumentation to reach this conclusion though is not entirely to my liking ...

1. you presuppose the justice of an invasion of Irak because of 9/11, thus also condoning the outcome of this invasion (call it liberation if you like or simply vengeance) ... that's of course debatable, but let's keep politics aside for a moment ...
2. you also presuppose that retaliation for this wrong is justified to come from an army directed by a government you yourself are not too fond of ...
3. you present us with the false conclusion of a typical split issue: to kick a bully's ass become a bully yourself ...

Let's unsplit the issue first - the usual therapy the doctor ordered: if there's a contradiction, check your premises ...

1. 9/11 did not happen because some charismatic asshole fooled some dupes into suicide or because some persuasive words of certain literary texts made some geeks go 'a wee bit nuts' - 9/11 happened because we (yes we the egoists/rationalists/creators) allowed the non-thinkers/parasites/weaklings of this world to get along without an ego, without rational judgement, without a mind (to quote a favorite line from the film Foxfire: 'God Cindy: get a mind of your own!) - millions of 'non-entities' to be fooled by any 'leader of the masses' into just about any stupidity they could think of ...
Without these cripples of the mind (and of the ego) the Saddams and Korans (or Bushes and Bibles) of this world would be seen as the silly jokes they actually are (no harm inteded to any believers - only disparaging the radical fundamentalists who take their religion 'a wee bit far') ...

2. if the deed is done and there is some retaliation/liberation/vengeance in your rational opinion necessary, then why do you give that power to an army you have absolutely no control over? That uses the power you have given it at it's own descretion, not to avenge your wrongs or protect your rights, but to follow it's own 'leaders', this time of a greener or blacker colour ...
Why are you so afraid to claim that power yourself, head over to Al Quaeda and slit some throats? Because they are more in numbers? Where's your ego! Because you have handed over your judicative and executive power to a government that is a farce? Where are your convictions! Because you need big armies and big weapons to kill parasites? All you need is your mind!

3. even if said army acts with your full agreement, what makes you think you punish a bully by giving him what he really wants? In your own words bullies are only looking for stronger bullies - why give them that? Why not refuse them what they really want: refuse to compete on their level (to quote someone I read on an objectivist board: if you wrestle with pigs you only both get dirty - except that the pig likes it)! Use your power to stand up to their bullying not by being the bigger bully, but by not being afraid of a weakling who has nothing better to offer than a big mouth. That's what they really want: to cower in front of a leader or to make others cower in front of them. Don't cower!

Changing/refusing the mind-cripples of our world, taking back our personal judicial and executive power, refusing/containing the bullying power of weaklings, would seem to be a very different solution, not only to avenge 9/11, but also to prevent them from happening in the future.

It's up to everyone himself what he choses from here ...
Either - Or ...

As for your ethical vs. unethical sadism: let me add my own two cents from the perspective of a sadomasochist!
If A is A we have to make sure we know which A we are talking about ...

1. sadism is another word perverted to the extreme negative use that I'm on a personal crusade to reclaim. Sadism in it's positive manifestation is the use of power FOR something/someone - the pleasure/benefit/fulfillment of and in this power (your own or someone else's) ... in contrast to the use of power OVER something/someone ... the keyword here is consensual - and neither of your interpretations of sadism (ethical or unethical) can be called consensual!

2. being called a sadist, with the same word the braindeads of this world are denominated with, makes me rile at the limited perspectives of our 'loaded words' world of double standards. You do not offer us a distinction of different versions of sadism (see above), you offer us another falvour of the same garbage going down as sadism these days! Becoming the bigger bully in the court makes me just the same asshole like the bully who now licks my posterieur ... calling it ethical does not make it so. And it also completely disregards your dependance on others: after all a bully is only as good as the hordes he can fool ...

As for the point you are trying to make, that we can use our sadism (our dark side) to avenge a wrong, I fully agree with. Only make it very clear in your own mind which kind of sadism you are talking about!
'Enjoying' sadism (the power OVER) when torturing someone who did something horrible to me will only afford me the distraction from my own pain - the pain will not go away. Using sadism (the power FOR) to heal that pain by learning to wield the power of sadism and not only be it's victim, is far more effective.
Using sadism to execute a vengeance I feel fully justified in, is something most people I have met are no longer capable of - one of the major reasons why most of us are so willing to submit to a judicative and executive government. Few people are still capable of rational, justified cruelty without handing over their mind/ego to someone else's safekeeping.
No government and no army can judge or avenge the pain I feel. They can only lend assistance to prevent me from avenging myself on the wrong person or help me carry out my vengeance, again only if I'm incapable of carrying it out myself, not because I'm too chickenshit to pull the trigger myself!

VSD



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Post 11

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 3:11pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Reasoner,

No they did not force a sense of consequences on those prisoners - by treating them in such a fashion they undermined the very concept consequences. By taking it upon themselves to act sadistically they lowered themselves to the level of many of the prisoners. By imposing arbitrary humiliations upon them they undermined the proper concept of justice. As to ethical and unethical sadism - this is a contradiction in terms. Sadism by its very definition and by its actual nature can never fall into the realm of the ethical for any person that holds reason and justice as proper values. No reasonable person can assert that those 18 to 24 year olds were in any way making a statement of 'principle' when they toyed with their prisoners. Even assuming that they were - this justifies nothing, but would merely point out how improperly a human being can act when he acts upon a false principle.

This has nothing to do with being a 'kumbaya' type person. This is not about being unable to distinguish between degrees of crimes, nor is it about displaying the moral equivalency of so many misguided Americans. Trust me, I do know the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. In fact, it is precisely because I want to see terrorist killed and/or brought to justice that it saddens me whenever any part of that instrument of proper justice (however small in numbers) acts in a manner that undermines the the efforts of those that maintain their integrity.

Lastly, as to earning the respect of an unethical sadist - why on earth would you wish to waste any time in such an endeavor? Exactly what is it that I would gain (supposing I could gain it in the first place) by having earned the respect of Osama bin Ladin? It is not Osama attention, respect, or even fear that I wish to attain - I want NOTHING from him at all. Those whom I DO want something from are those sworn to uphold our constitution and defend this nation. From them I want justice, and in the case of an Osama, and all the would be Osamas, it will be a justice that would cost him his life. Not as an act of Sadism - but as an act of proper proportional justice.  In a war between civilizations, let us be the civilization that is civilized.

There is a quote that is often attributed to Martin Luther King, I am not sure if he said it or not, but regardless, it is a quote worth repeating now:

" The means IS the ends - in action. "

George W. Cordero

(Edited by Ision on 8/03, 3:39pm)

(Edited by Ision on 8/03, 3:56pm)

(Edited by Ision on 8/03, 4:05pm)




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Post 12

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 5:07pmSanction this postReply
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Tom Blackstone, you suggested that fiscal conservatives would either vote for the Libertarian Party candidate or stay home this November. Have you -- has anyone -- read Bill Bradford's
article on the Libertarian Convention and Michael Badnarik in August's Liberty? It's titled "Liberty -- Dark Horse Wins on the Third Ballot" -- see URL below -- and is an important article. I suspect its consequence will be that fiscal conservatives will not vote for Michael Badnarik.

Barbara

www.libertyunbound.com/archive/2004_08/bradford-dark_horse.html - 75k - Aug 1, 2004



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Post 13

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 5:10pmSanction this postReply
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Vera S. Doerr, you wrote: "Excuse Me! Are you acutally playing that age-old game of 'what I did may have been wrong, but what you did was much more wrong, so my wrong is negligible'?"

No, I quite clearly was not.

Barbara



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Post 14

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 5:26pmSanction this postReply
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Orion, it won't wash. You wrote: "an ethical sadist is one who yes, does enjoy causing suffering -- but only of unethical sadists."

"Ethical sadism" is a contradiction in terms. By definition,a sadist is a person who enjoys causing suffering. Period. Sadism is pathology. It is no more reasonable to speak of "ethical sadism" than of "ethical child-molestation."

There might be arguments in favor of torturing an enemy in order to obtain vital information from him -- but there can be no justification for "enjoying" the process -- for taking pleasure in the inflicting of suffering as an end in itself. Such enjoyment is perversion, not morality.

Barbara



Post 15

Tuesday, August 3, 2004 - 10:59pmSanction this postReply
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After having viewed Badnariks foreign policy stances even before he won the LP nod, there is absolutely no way I could ever vote for him. His adviser must be his mother. I spoke with an associate of his before the nomination announcement and very simply pointed out his serious flaws on FP-IR. He essentially agreed and said we couldnt all be perfect. Eeeek! The link Barbara provided further solidifies this, that coupled with my having blacklisted the LP ever since their ridiculous behavior following 9-11 and their constant liberal hugging and position changes simply to avoid being seen as "Conservative" in any way or form... ahh, but I digress. The LP is getting worse. I thought Browne was bad because of his unrealistic desire to end all unconstituional programs the day he came into office... which would send the world upside down.... ahh, but I digress.

Dustin Hawkins
www.dustinmhawkins.com




Post 16

Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - 2:58amSanction this postReply
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The Bush vs. Kerry race is obviously being fought on various levels.

However, in Kerry's speech he says, "I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side."

In the UK, the media claimed that this was the signal that Kerry wants to be a more secular President in contrast to Bush.

So is the political contest on one level also conservative Christianity vs. Secularism as well as being Capitalism vs. Socialism? Unfortunately, in the western world, it seems almost impossible to separate pro-capitalism politics from conservative Christianity (e.g. Reagan, Bush, Thatcher and even Blair (a watered down form of it).

That is the real challenge to objectivists and libertarians – the challenge to remove the ideological link between conservative Christianity and Capitalism as well as between Secularism and Socialism in the minds of the general public - because from the perspective of history the impetus to separate the two seems to going backwards rather than forwards.






Post 17

Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - 3:22amSanction this postReply
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Barbara, Ms Doerr,

This should probably be on a separate thread but should we perhaps draw a distinction between sexual sadomasochism and sadism as a more general attitude? I tend to think of Rand's sex scenes particularly in The Fountainhead (more so than her other novels) as being mildly sadomasochistic. Perhaps this is a matter of definitions though.

Marcus,

I'm not sure I'd entirely agree about Thatcher. While she personally was a Christian, I don't see her as being a religious Prime Minister in the sense that Reagan and Bush are religious presidents. Her social policies, though not libertarian, were nowhere near as authoritarian as those favoured by the US Religious Right. There are plenty of secular conservatives out there (including in the US Republican Party) who may or may not be religious in their personal lives but don't base their politics on religious beliefs.

MH




Post 18

Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - 3:38amSanction this postReply
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My point about Thatcher is that she often based her Capitalist principles on her religious beliefs. Obviously, she did pick and choose a lot from Christianity to suit her purpose, but then so do almost all pro-capitalistic conservative Christians.

 

Here is a link to a summary of a speech she made on how her Christian beliefs agreed with her politics:

 

http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/X0145_Margaret_Thatcher_Sp.html

(Edited by Marcus Bachler on 8/04, 3:44am)




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Post 19

Wednesday, August 4, 2004 - 5:38amSanction this postReply
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A few points in response:

I'm not going to deny that Ronald Reagan tapped into a religious fundamentalist base in order to win an election.  I'm not even going to deny that Reagan had religious beliefs.  Reagan was sincere in his convictions... but I do believe there is an important difference between Reagan's rhetoric and George W. Bush's rhetoric.  Whatever his faults, Reagan did embrace a quasi-libertarian ideology, as I argue here and here.  Bush tapped into the same fundamentalist support that Reagan enjoyed, but turned away from Reagan's libertarian rhetorical legacy.  Instead, he embraced the neoconservative remnants of the Reagan administration.  Neoconservatives are not libertarians; they're not even genuine conservatives.  Their ideological lineage reaches back to left-wing "social democrats," "New Dealers," and Trotskyites; they gave up central planning of the economy because it didn't work, only to embrace a Wilsonian "nation-building" enterprise that encapsulates many of the same fallacious premises of central planning.  I am not even sure that Bush himself  is a neoconservative; I think he's more a pietist Methodist Christian who has surrounded himself with neoconservatives.   And therein lies a troubling tendency within his administration:  it has become a constellation for pietist Christian fundamentalism and neoconservative ideology.

There is also a difference in voting demographics today.  When Reagan tapped into fundamentalist Christian politics, he paid a lot of lip service to it.  His Supreme Court appointees ended up far more moderate, and his focus was much more on economic matters than on religious-social ones.  Today, however, fundamentalism is not a "fringe" movement.  The fringe groups are gone.  Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority is gone.  Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition is gone.  But that's because the fundamentalist movement has now gone "mainstream"; it has become a significant part of pop culture.  It has had a remarkably powerful effect on culture and on the economics of culture.  And it has vast political implications.  All of this is the subject of my newest article in The Free Radical, "Caught Up in the Rapture."  I want to emphasize that the newest article, which is a sequel to the one we're actually discussing, is far more important from a cultural and political perspective.

That's why it all comes down to this:  If Bush is able to energize his fundamentalist base (one of the reasons I argued back in May that his proposed constitutional amendment in defense of heterosexual marriage was a political statement), I don't see how he loses.  The question is:  Will that base come out and vote in numbers that will tip the Electoral College toward Bush?  Right now, I say Yes.  It's difficult to predict what will happen in the next few months.

I ought to say one more thing:  I'm not fond of Kerry.  I don't even like the Libertarian candidate.  For the first time in my life, I may go into the voting booth, vote for other races, and various bond issues and amendments... and skip the Presidential election.  It doesn't matter anyway; odds are that heavily Democratic New York State will give Kerry its electoral votes.  But I don't think that's enough to put him over the top.   We'll see.




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