I admit, I'm a bit disappointed. I would have supported a non-partisan conservative like Michael McConnell, who had added, especially, an interesting voice in interpreting the relationship between church and state. I think that he was overlooked because he disagreed with the 2000 supreme court decision in favor of Bush. Since there's plenty of evidence that Bush holds grudges, I'm not particularly surprised.
Alito has every right to be nominated. But contrast this to the unbridled hypocrisy of the Republicans who nastily held up Clinton's many nominations of qualified lawyers, including enrique Moreno and Ronnie White. As polipundit noted, in opposition to McConnell, partisanship is often more important than principle.
The other day, the president of Iran explicitly stated that he desired the destruction of Israel. Following that, demonstrators at Tehran University chanted death to Israel, Zionism, America and Britain, after the west expressed outrage.
Iran's statements are deeply disturbing, and should cause us to reread some literature written after WWII about Anti-Semitism, especially the work written before the US built up a relationship with Israel. There is a link between anti-semitism, totalitarianism and communism that Arendt, especially, explores.
The president's tactics reveal, especially, the tenuous hold of the clerics in their own society. It is probably true that most Iranians consider Israel to be an outpost of the west. But this demonstration was staged for the purpose of organizing Iranian society against an outside enemy, giving license to destroy internal opposition to any future conflict. The anti-trinity of Israel, the US and Britain [formerly, South Africa], is used as a convenient way to organize and prepare Iranian society to follow the revolution uncritically. If there weren't conflict internally, his statements would be unnecessary. And Israel is an easy rhetorical target.
Iran has revealed, in these statements, to be no friend of the Palestinians. The PA rejected these statements by Iran, and rightfully so. Iranian Rhetoric seriously undermines the political movement that the Palestinians have agreed to promote - a two state solution. Clearly, the audience was not the Palestinians, even though some Palestinians will enjoy the fantasy. So who was the audience of these terrible claims, these claims that implicity declare war on Israel?
Iran has made an implicit moral claim in the Muslim world that the west should understand. In Muslim code, they've said that they are the only nation not beholden to the west. Every other nation is. They are drawing a line in the sand. There is a reason for this: our soldiers have already crossed into Iran.
As they prepare themselves for war, they will continue to suppress their internal opposition - the educated elite [the people who conservatives HATE in this country]. Iran is preparing its soldiers for a holy war - and not mainly to engage the west, but to destroy those deeply dissatisfied internally. The west has already delivered what Iran wanted - a regime change in Iraq and the establishment of shia power.
I imagine that there are plenty of zionists out there looking at these statements, pleased that their foundational myths have been verified. It would be a mistake to assume that Israel and the Palestinians were the audience. It was both a warning and a distraction. A warning to the west and Iran's internal critics. And a distraction for the Palestinians and Jews who have to get their own house in order, regardless of what Iran says and does. In sum - this anti-semitism is about Iran's totalizing rule first, to organize against the US, and only trivially about their plan to take over Israel.
Anti-Semitism has a purpose. and often the main purpose is to destroy all dissent.
Israel could easily take the wind out of the Iranian sails by rewarding the Palestinians who rejected these statements outright. I doubt they will, for they can't distinguish between Palestinian realists and terrorists. and as they won't, the anti-semites will feed off Palestinian resentment and rage.
From Haaretz: " Abbas' difficulties in thwarting all attacks while
the occupation remains in effect throughout the West Bank do not call
for Israel's forgiving attitude toward terrorists, but do demand
viewing Abbas as a worthy partner in the anti-terror campaign: a
partner who appears to be willing to adopt the old adage that you
should fight terrorism as if there were no peace process, and advance
the peace process as though there were no terrorism. Israel, which drew
optimism from the political developments in the territories in recent
months, therefore is obligated to use an appropriate degree of caution
fighting terrorism. Such an attitude is guided not by vengeance for a
terrible terrorist attack, but rather by the need to build a powerful
Palestinian partner that will be capable of replacing Israel in this
war." Read it all
And from the Washington Post about how to destroy Hamas:We must admit that Israel's unilateral decision to withdraw from the
Gaza Strip substantially empowered Hamas in the Palestinian street.
Israel's lack of generosity toward Abbas has made it difficult to
demand of him things that, for now, he cannot deliver. Israel will
contribute most to the political defeat of Hamas in January if it
facilitates the international community's efforts to reach out and
support Hamas's rivals.
Tobias Haller, one of the smarter people in the church, writes:
• Each province shall govern itself in all matters pertaining only to itself.
This includes the interpretation of the historic faith and order as
expressed in the Book of Common Prayer of each province, by the
superior synod of each province (in our case the General Convention; in
Nigeria's case, their synod.) This way, some provinces might have
same-sex unions, women priests, or gay bishops, but another province
doesn't have to allow or accept them either in principle or as
individuals. This draws upon the already existing Anglican notion of
provincial diversity in matters of rites and ceremonies, and the
provision for the local adapation of the historic episcopate as
described in the Lambeth Quadrilateral.
• No decision affecting all
of the provinces shall be acceptable unless and until all provinces
have approved such an action, through their particular superior synods.
This would essentially give each province an absolute veto over any
action that would force it to take a position with which it disagreed.
(This is, more or less, how the Orthodox do things: recognition of
Anglican orders was held up because of the veto by two of the
autocephalous Orthodox churches, if I recall correctly.) Such actions
and decisions would be, I take it, very few and far between, and on
matters of such import the church would move very slowly; and more
• Lambeth and the ACC would function as
conferences and consultative bodies rather than as legislatures,
meeting only to address such questions as mission and program. This might actually accomplish something and allow them to serve more as instruments of unity than as forums for division.
This reminds me much of Althusius, who is one of the most underrated political theorists. He's a bit too conservative for some liberals, with his systematic emphasis on church, stability and order. He's like a Protestant Thomas More.
Although Althusius doesn't have the psychological insight of Hobbes, the passion of Rousseau, or the breadth of Locke, his understanding of political / ecclesial organization is worthy.
DCAF's Luethold was very clear about the implications of the survey
findings, which officials in the region and abroad would do well to
heed. He told me: "In the eyes of ordinary Palestinians, Israeli
occupation and weak Palestinian governance have at least two things in
common: they increase the feeling of insecurity amongst the population,
and limit the prospects of economic development. It is therefore not
surprising that Palestinians look for change, not only from outside,
but also from inside. The widespread and overwhelming popular support
for Palestinian security sector reform sends a strong message to the
Palestinian Authority to put its house in order and to give top
priority to fighting corruption and nepotism and increasing political
oversight and control of the security forces. The mission of the
Palestinian Authority could be made less impossible if Israel accepted
to create an enabling environment, and more attractive if the
international community linked its assistance programs to tangible
outcomes in areas where the Palestinian people want change to occur."
The Via Media, a group of Episcopalians who wish to remain in fellowship with the ECUSA, decide that it's best to plan if some of the dioceses decide to create a separate church in "communion" with Canterbury.
Via Media asks: "1. What will be our response the "Day After" when the bishops start
announcing they are in a "new" Anglican Communion and the Network is
"recognized" as the only legitimate expressions of the A.C. in North
America?" Granted, this is fantastic [in the original sense], but understandable given the extreme rhetoric of the sentimental, pre-modern wing of the church.
But will Duncan declare that he is part of a new thing?
Will he eclare that his organization is separate from ECUSA and legitimate?
Will he say that ECUSA is illegitimate?
Will they engage in conflict? If so, then conflict will happen.
For if these dioceses decide that they are NOT in communion with ECUSA then preparation seems fully rational. Why not?
But lets look at some other things that might happen.
First, there will still be pan agencies, like the UTO, the Church Publishing Group and the Church Pension Fund. I'd like charity and good business practices to orient these three organizations, and not conflict about the Word of God. Plenty of Good orthodox and liberals have been uncharitable and bad business managers. Fidelity to the gospel does not ensure competence. Look, if this sounds strange, I let a Jew run my personal investments, and give money to a charity that has Muslims, Christians, and Jews on its board. Please don't get too irritated that I seek to do good with people who aren't Christian.
If this were to happen, the network would implicitly admit that ECUSA cannot be converted and is beyond repentance. Although in contrast to the notion that someone can be forgiven seventy times seven times, they simply would rather encourage a divorce. In itself, this would invite a conflict.
ECUSA would become, like the UCC and the Unitarian church, a self-consciously liberal denomination. I know of very few pastors who desire this as a goal. We consider our identity to be rooted first in prayer and secondly in openness, but not at the expense of fellowship with those who think differently. Liberals argue that because we think differently, we should both value the process [commonly called the canons] so that we can remain together.
On the other hand, I think that ECUSA might become the only church that has the tools to reveal the good news to the culture in a way that is credible to all sorts of people, and not merely "Jesus-onlies" or pre-moderns.
I don't think the minutes of the Via Media teach us very much, except that the gay issue has revealed that this is really an issue of authority. The via media doesn't want to be in an organization that refuses to engage the Episcopal church as a legitimate authority. And that seems justified.
Just as the printing press undermined the church by allowing the reading class to make their own decisions about God, further information continues to undermine the "plain text" interpretations of the bible.
So where is authority consolidated? In those who control information; in those who can organize people. In those who organize and regulate the media. The winners of this religious conflict will be those who understand the media. And if we Progressives can merely create a space for our communities to work and grow, we will be successful. We don't need everything - just to remain connected with the Episcopal Church as we were meant to be.
Used to be that the bible was all the media one needed, with one bible loving, big speaking, hair raising pastor to tell you what scripture really said.
Brent Scowcroft affirms what most of us in the reality based community have known for more than four years. Bush is surrounded by revolutionary utopians and can't bear any kind of debate within the administration. From the New Yorker.
The first Gulf War was a success, Scowcroft said, because the
President knew better than to set unachievable goals. "I'm not a
pacifist," he said. "I believe in the use of force. But there has to be
a good reason for using force. And you have to know when to stop using
force." Scowcroft does not believe that the promotion of American-style
democracy abroad is a sufficiently good reason to use force.
"I thought we ought to make it our duty to help make the world
friendlier for the growth of liberal regimes," he said. "You encourage
democracy over time, with assistance, and aid, the traditional way. Not
how the neocons do it."
The neoconservatives -- the Republicans who argued most fervently
for the second Gulf war -- believe in the export of democracy, by
violence if that is required, Scowcroft said. "How do the neocons bring
democracy to Iraq? You invade, you threaten and pressure, you
evangelize." And now, Scowcroft said, America is suffering from the
consequences of that brand of revolutionary utopianism. "This was said
to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism," he said.
Later on a conversation with Condi Rice.
"We were having dinner just when Sharon said he was going to pull out
of Gaza," at the end of 2003. "She said, 'At least there's some good
news,' and I said, 'That's terrible news.' She said, 'What do you
mean?' And I said that for Sharon this is not the first move, this is
the last move. He's getting out of Gaza because he can't sustain eight
thousand settlers with half his Army protecting them. Then, when he's
out, he will have an Israel that he can control and a Palestinian state
atomized enough that it can’t be a problem." Scowcroft added, "We had a
terrible fight on that."
It will be in the print edition of the New Yorker.