Saturday, September 13, 2008

Items of interest

Call it a quick roundup of essays, interviews, and speaking engagements that are catching my attention this evening.

Mickey Z's edited version of September 11, 2008 is one of those must-reads. Here's just a teaser:
Preamble: "How many other countries give you the right to write what you just wrote?" This was one of the many responses I got to a recent article of mine. Let's put aside the unintentional tongue twister and the question's obvious answer: plenty of other countries would give me the right to write what I just wrote.

The larger issue, as I see it, is how we each choose to evaluate our freedom. Is freedom just a matter of bigger cages and longer chains? Is it merely a commodity sold to the highest bidder? Must the majority of us sit by and drool while freedom fries on the grill of capitalist greed?

Freedom, according to Rosa Luxemburg, is "always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently." To merely have more freedom than, say, a woman living under Taliban repression is not the same as being free. But it is the same as settling for less subjugation instead of demanding more liberty. The "it could always be worse" excuse is no way to judge the quality or quantity of anything.
The Luxemburg quote stood out in particular.

Larry at Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time has a tribute to the persistence of memory. There's plenty in the way of writings from the fall of 2001, including this excerpt:
In any political dispute, it is a dreadful tactical mistake - one of which the left has been too often guilty - to let your opponents define the terms of debate. By decrying “the refusal to draw [a] line” between “principled dissent” and an ill-defined “‘Hate America’ left” Alterman effectively acknowledges that questions about our patriotism - however we individually define the word - are proper ones and thus repeats this same blunder. His proposed course of action does not defuse the right’s attack, it legitimizes it.

If “patriotism requires no apologies,” neither should it require conscious demonstration. Instead of trying to prove we are part of “responsible debate” by slicing others out of that range, we should simply assume that we are and act on that basis. I’ve long maintained that the left in this country has been at its strongest and most influential when we have spoken the truth as we understand it without giving a flying damn if anyone was offended or not. Our task must be to present ourselves and what we believe, clearly, strongly, unreservedly, and unashamedly. Time and energy wasted defensively declaring what we don’t believe are just that - and we’ve little enough of either to start with.
Finally, Howard Zinn from a recent Al Jazeera interview:

Q: Is there any hope the US will change its approach to the rest of the world?

HZ: If there is any hope, the hope lies in the American people.

[It] lies in American people becoming resentful enough and indignant enough over what has happened to their country, over the loss of dignity in the world, over the starving of human resources in the United States, the starving of education and health, the takeover of the political mechanism by corporate power and the result this has on the everyday lives of the American people.

[There is also] the higher and higher food prices, the more and more insecurity, the sending of the young people to war.

I think all of this may very well build up into a movement of rebellion.

We have seen movements of rebellion in the past: The labour movement, the civil rights movement, the movement against the war in Vietnam.

I think we may well see, if the United States keeps heading in the same direction, a new popular movement. That is the only hope for the United States.

Q: How did the US get to this point?

HZ: Well, we got to this point because … I suppose the American people have allowed it to get it to this point because there were enough Americans who were satisfied with their lives, just enough.

Of course, many Americans were not, that is why half of the population doesn’t vote, they’re alienated.

But there are just enough Americans who have been satisfied, you might say getting some of the “goodies” of the empire, just some of them, just enough people satisfied to support the system, so we got this way because of the ability of the system to maintain itself by satisfying just enough of the population to keep its legitimacy.

And I think that era is coming to an end.

Food for thought.

Fingers crossed

Looks like the worst of the illness has passed, I hope. Trust me, y'all don't want the details. Needless to say, it's great to be able to sit at a computer (when feasible) without feeling queasy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sexism and the election

Right now I am very, very ill with what I had hoped would be a 24 hour bug that seems to be going into overtime, so I apologize in advance that there won't be much depth to this post.

In the meantime, I thought I'd let y'all know that Arthur Silber has been on a roll lately about our culture's hostility toward women and the tendency to accept the sorts of attacks on female electoral candidates that would be entirely unacceptable if lobbed at male candidates. Start here, and work your way back for the last several days, and see what Silber has to say vis a vis the attacks on both Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton during the current electoral cycle. I myself find both women to hold horrifyingly awful policy positions, although they certainly are not much (if any) different from those of any of their male counterparts.

His essays this past week got me thinking a bit about how the Colorado Green Party had reacted to Cynthia McKinney's candidacy, including the refusal of some of that state party's leadership to accept her candidacy (and for that matter the candidacy of her running mate, Rosa Clemente). As I had noted previously, much of the rhetoric lobbed at them from the likes of David Chandler had been along the lines of them being "radical" and "unfit to lead." At the time, my main focus was on the racist undercurrents that seemed endemic to the Colorado Green Party, but it also occurs as I reflect a bit more that our culture's on-going fear of and hostility toward women plays a significant role as well.

About that on-going hostility, here's a few lines that should give food for thought:
In the late fourth century, Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, was living in an entirely different political world from his Church predecessors. Christianity was no longer a dissident sect but the state religion of Rome. Christians were now free to follow their faith and were officially encouraged to do so. Such a drastic transformation of the social circumstance of Christians required yet another revision of the reading of Genesis. It was Augustine who undertook this new interpretatioin of Adam and Eve, resulting in a viewpoint vastly different from the majority of his Jewish and Christian predecessors. As [Elaine] Pagels notes, what had been read as a tale of the right to quest for human freedom now became an Augustinian story of human bondage. Hitherto, most Jews and Christians had understood from Genesis that God gave humankind the right of moral freedom, and that Adam had misused it and thereby brought death and pain into the world. Augustine, however, was not content with the travails of such an interpretation, and he went a good deal further. He contended that Adam's sin not only caused our mortality but also corrupted our sexuality. If these notions contradicted the notorious sexual conduct of Rome, they indirectly sanctioned the limitations placed on the political freedom of Romanized Christians, a forfeiture that the followers of Jesus paid to Rome for its sanction of religious freedom. It was Augustine who reread Genesis to fit the limitations of Christian freedom within the Roman world. He observed that Adam's sin had not only made sex irreversibly corrupt, but it also cost us our free will, rendering us incapable of genuine political freedom. "Augustine's theory of original sin offered an analysis of human nature that became, for better or worse, the heritage of all subsequent generations of Western Christians and the major influence on their psychological and political thinking." (Pagels)
The conclusion is a must-read:
The conclusion of Oscar Wilde's play, Salome, introduces this essay. Wilde himself tragically knew far too much about the experience of challenging the conventional morality and institutions of power of his time, of living outside the bounds of "acceptable" behavior. Salome is an extraordinary work; in purely literary terms, it is breathtaking. When you have time (it's short and doesn't require a lot), I recommend you read it. Pay special attention to the scene between Salome and Iokanaan. It contains writing of very rare quality. Richard Strauss wrote a spectacularly effective opera using Wilde's full text. If you wish to see a magnificent performance of the Strauss work, I give my highest recommendation to this one. Teresa Stratas is shattering and sublime in the title role.

I chose the conclusion of Salome to highlight this piece for several reasons, only one of which is Wilde's superb imagination and use of language. The last line -- "Kill that woman!" -- captures the final meaning of our culture's loathing of woman, and it captures this all-pervasive attitude in just three terrifying words. But there is a further point that deserves mention, especially as it relates to the political battles that so consume us.

Consider the following aspect of the Salome story, an aspect set into high relief in Wilde's retelling. Herod is a brutal, murderous ruler; his court is noted for its debauchery. Herod is Salome's stepfather -- and he revels in his lust for Salome in front of everyone, including Salome's mother. It is Herod's desire for Salome that leads directly to the play's final moments. Herod wants Salome to dance for him, so that he may enjoy the contemplation of her body more fully. Salome refuses at first, but Herod declares, "whatsoever thou shalt ask of me I will give it thee, even unto the half of my kingdom." Salome extracts a solemn oath from Herod that he will fulfill his promise to give her whatever she demands once she has danced for him; Herod swears, "By my life, by my crown, by my gods." Herod is so consumed by his desire for her that he agrees. Salome shall have "whatsoever thou shalt ask of me..."

Salome performs for Herod, and then makes her demand: "I would that they presently bring me in a silver charger . . The head of Iokanaan." Herod is deeply shocked, not by the bloody violence involved, for that is commonplace in his world and under his rule, but by the possible religious implications, according to his particular superstitions. This is the same Herod who casually orders murders without end, who brutalizes his subjects in unimaginable ways, who lusts for his stepdaughter in front of her mother, who also happens to be his wife. Herod offers to give Salome many other treasures. But Salome reminds Herod of his oath, and she insists that he fulfill his promise. She will have Iokanaan's head on a silver charger. And she does.

Set aside the particulars of Salome's demand and her actions, and whatever revulsion you may feel. (You might ask yourself why you feel such revulsion, if you do, about fictional events when you do nothing about this, and when you may well vote for one of two men who will continue such horrors. Revulsion is much safer when confined to the imaginary.) Focus on the underlying dynamics in play. To put the issue in other terms, and these are the exact terms you should apply to women in politics today: she beat him at his own game. Herod had set the terms of the contest, and Salome used them for her own ends. She fought on his terms, but she outwitted the man who had set the rules. She humiliated him -- and she got what she wanted.

For Herod -- for most men -- this is intolerable. It is inconceivable to Herod -- just as it is inconceivable to most men -- that the fault or the responsibility should be his. The fault and the responsibility must be Salome's. The fault and the responsibility must always be woman's. In any confrontation between a man and a woman in our culture, there is only one party to be punished: the woman. So it was with Salome, and so it is with Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin.

Kill that woman. That is the motive, and that is the goal. To the extent women are successful, to the extent they threaten men's monopoly on power and control, they must be demeaned, diminished, treated with unending cruelty, and mocked. When all else fails, they must be eliminated. Kill that woman.

So ends our story for today.
As I said, some food for thought, not only among mainstream circles, but also among more legitimate leftist circles. Speaking of the phrase "kill that woman" taken to its ultimate extreme, I usually like to share a story when the opportunity affords itself, in the context of discussing the cultural views of women in the West from the age of Antiquity that continue to haunt us to the present. The following is from Carl Sagan's book Cosmos, and is placed in the context of the eventual destruction of the Library of Alexandria, which ended up being a devastating loss for scientific inquiry in Europe, from which we might arguably still be recovering from. Our story is of Hypatia (Sagan, 1980, pp 335-336):
The last scientist who worked in the Library was a mathematician, astronomer, and the head of the Neoplatonic school of philosophy - an extraordinary range of accomplishments for an individual in any age. Her name was Hypatia. She was born in Alexandria in 370. At a time when women had few options and were treated as property, Hypatia moved freely and unselfconsciously through traditional male domains. By all accounts she was a great beauty. She had many suitors but rejected all offers of marriage. The Alexandria of Hypatia's time - by then long under Roman rule - was a city under grave strain. Slavery had sapped classical civilization of its vitality. The growing Christian Church was consolidating its power and attempting to eradicate pagan influences and culture. Hypatia stood at the epicenter of these mighty social forces. Cyril, the Archbishop of Alexandria, despised her because of her close friendship with the Roman governor, and beacuase she was a symbol of learning and science, which were largely identified by the early Church with paganism. IN great personal danger, she continued to teach and publish, until, in the year 415, on her way to work seh was set upon by a fanatical mob of Cyril's parishioners. The dragged her from her chariot, tore off her clothes, and, armed with abalone shells, flayed her flesh from her bones. Her remains were burned, her works obliterated, her name forgotten. Cyril was made a saint.
It was also a time when Augustine's concept of original sin would have been well-known to Cyril, who no doubt had fed such propaganda to his parishioners. Augustine's thinking certainly had plenty of precedence in other other early Church fathers, such as Turtullian, who had to say the following of women (from a chapter in a book called Secrets of the Code, titled, "Heretics, Women, Magicians, and Mystics", p. 151):
"The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in the age... The guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil's gateway... And it should be noted that there was a defect in the formation of the first woman, since she was formed from a bent rib, that is, a rib of the breast, which is bent as it were in a contrary direction to a man. And since through this defect she is an impure animal, she always deceives."
As I said, food for thought as we try to make some sense of some of the outrages that seem to pass for normal during the 2008 election spectacle.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11 Means Different Things to Different People

The essay is available in full at Never In Our Names. Just a teaser:
I've been doing a variation of the following since September 11, 2003, which at the time marked the 30th anniversary of the US-assisted overthrow of the democratically elected Allende government in Chile, and the beginning of Pinochet's reign of terror against his own people. The idea was to offer a reminder to my readers that what 9-11 means or "should mean" has a great deal of variability among individuals across the globe.

This year I'm modifying my statement just a bit, as I like to keep it fresh as I wish to keep it real. There is no doubt in my mind that terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers and the Pentagon were a terrible tragedy. However, let's not forget that September 11 marks the anniversary for numerous other events: some tragic, some inspirational.
Read the rest.

See also, Alexa's 11 September, 2001: "Everything Has Changed"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This morning's musical interlude: Bird and Diz

Here's a video clip of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie performing "Hot House":



H/t Bernard Chazelle of A Tiny Revolution, who's got an interesting music series going on these days.

Postscript to "Mixing religious fanaticism with war"

Since I'd already highlighted the extreme religious fundamentalism of Sarah Palin earlier, a follow-up seemed in order. This time around, let's check what Juan Cole has to say over at Salon.com:
Tolerance and democracy require freedom of speech and the press, but while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, Palin inquired of the local librarian how to go about banning books that some of her constituents thought contained inappropriate language. She tried to fire the librarian for defying her. Book banning is common to fundamentalisms around the world, and the mind-set Palin displayed did not differ from that of the Hamas minister of education in the Palestinian government who banned a book of Palestinian folk tales for its sexually explicit language. In contrast, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it."
Palin argued when running for governor that creationism should be taught in public schools, at taxpayers' expense, alongside real science. Antipathy to Darwin for providing an alternative to the creation stories of the Bible and the Quran has also become a feature of Muslim fundamentalism. Saudi Arabia prohibits the study, even in universities, of evolution, Freud and Marx. Malaysia has banned a translation of "The Origin of the Species." Likewise, fundamentalists in Turkey have pressured the government to teach creationism in the public schools. McCain has praised Turkey as an anchor of democracy in the region, but Turkey's secular traditions are under severe pressure from fundamentalists in that country. McCain does them no favors by choosing a running mate who wishes to destroy the First Amendment's establishment clause, which forbids the state to give official support to any particular theology. Turkish religious activists would thereby be enabled to cite an American precedent for their own quest to put religion back at the center of Ankara's public and foreign policies.

The GOP vice-presidential pick holds that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape, incest or severe birth defects, making an exception only if the life of the mother is in danger. She calls abortion an "atrocity" and pledges to reshape the judiciary to fight it. Ironically, Palin's views on the matter are to the right of those in the Muslim country of Tunisia, which allows abortion in the first trimester for a wide range of reasons. Classical Muslim jurisprudents differed among one another on the issue of abortion, but many permitted it before the "quickening" of the fetus, i.e. until the end of the fourth month. Contemporary Muslim fundamentalists, however, generally oppose abortion.
Palin's stance is even stricter than that of the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2005, the legislature in Tehran attempted to amend the country's antiabortion statute to permit an abortion up to four months in case of a birth defect. The conservative clerical Guardianship Council, which functions as a sort of theocratic senate, however, rejected the change. Iran's law on abortion is therefore virtually identical to the one that Palin would like to see imposed on American women, and the rationale in both cases is the same, a literalist religious impulse that resists any compromise with the realities of biology and of women's lives. Saudi Arabia's restrictive law on abortion likewise disallows it in the case or rape or incest, or of fetal impairment, which is also Gov. Palin's position.
Theocrats confuse God's will with their own mortal policies. Just as Muslim fundamentalists believe that God has given them the vast oil and gas resources in their regions, so Palin asks church workers in Alaska to pray for a $30 billion pipeline in the state because "God's will has to get done." Likewise, Palin maintained that her task as governor would be impeded "if the people of Alaska's heart isn't right with God." Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of Iran expresses much the same sentiment when he says "the only way to attain prosperity and progress is to rely on Islam."
One point I try to raise again and again has to do with the similarities among right-wing authoritarians across the globe. Cole does a decent job of driving the point home. What's the difference between "Islamofascists" and "Christofascists"? Probably not much more than that females identifying with the latter tend to wear lipstick. Christian fundamentalists do not appreciate that being stated any more than Muslim fundamentalists - after all each group fancies itself to be "the chosen ones" and those of the other group (as well as the billions who are not fundamentalists at all) as "infidels." And yet here they are - mirror images of one another - with members of each showing strong tendencies toward conventionalism, obedience, and authoritarian aggression. That's not a recipe for reasonably peaceful coexistence with those who are different - as religious wars initiated by fundamentalists, as well as the usual hysterics such as witch hunts would indicate.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quotable (Pop Culture Edition)

Unless we all conform, unless we follow our leaders blindly, there is no possible way we can remain free.
Frank Burns, from the M*A*S*H episode Novocaine Mutiny.

Seemed a fitting commentary on some of our school board's recent shenanigans. Here's a bonus quote attributed to the character Frank Burns from the same M*A*S*H episode regarding "discipline":
Without discipline the Army would just be a bunch of guys wearing the same color clothing.
Just invert the sentence a bit, and you'd have the mentality of a subset of the board and administration: without a bunch of guys wearing the same hair cut, school would have no discipline.

Just a heartbeat away

While the usual shenanigans continue as we enter the peak months of Silly Season, we do occasionally get some substantive insight into some of our candidates. Among other things, we've been graced with Sarah Palin's economic genius. I'll have to say, she sure is impressive:

The number one issue of concern on people’s minds these days is the economy. Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs today Saturday, Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.”

>>>>>HOCKEY BUZZER NOISE!<<<<<<

Sorry. These lending institutions “aren’t taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization,” according to McClatchy.

As the current administration skips merrily along with their convenient ideology of privatizing profits, and socializing failures, Palin is obviously oblivious to the inner workings of….uh oh….the ECONOMY.

Palin’s statement “is somewhat nonsensical because up until yesterday there was sort of no public funding there,” said Andrew Jakobovics of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “The ‘too expensive to tax payers,’ I don’t know where that comes from.”

“You would like to think that someone who is going to be vice president and conceivable president would know what Fannie and Freddie do,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “These are huge institutions and they are absolutely central to our country’s mortgage debt. To not have a clue what they do doesn’t speak well for her, I’d say.”

Neither does she. But notice that Palin didn’t dodge the question. She didn’t panic and say she’d need to check with someone, or that she needed more information, or skirt around it. She actually felt confident enough to answer, and lay it all out there - and be completely wrong. She had no clue.

At least we now know that McCain, who admitted he didn’t really know much about the economy, decided to balance the ticket by choosing a running mate who doesn’t know ANYthing.

Looks like we have the potential to be treated to several years of Palin's Bush-like wisdom (and integrity). Maybe she can tell us about how hard it is to put food on the family, or admonish fellow Americans to make the pie higher.

Time for a quick follow-up

If one has already been to my wife's blog, or saw my of a Kool & the Gang video "Celebration," then one can surmise that things went well at the Monday night school board meeting. That is indeed the case. As of this writing, there is no longer mention of hair length or facial hair in the handbook. It's official. The administration and board did the right thing on that issue by backing down. Yes, the thought of actually respecting students' Constitutional rights must have seemed distasteful in this day and age to some at the meeting, but the Constitution prevailed.

Since I know there are some local folks now reading this blog, I wish to give a few shout-outs. To the parents and students who were willing to stand and be counted, whether it was by signing a petition and/or by showing up at Monday's meeting, you have my undying gratitude. The same goes also to those who've expressed support in person, phone or email. It definitely takes a load off to head into a battle for one's kids' rights when there is some solidarity, as opposed to having to stand alone. I'd prepared initially to stand alone if needed once I realized just how important this was for my son - those who know me well enough know that I'd go to whatever lengths necessary to protect his and his sisters' well-being. In recent days, we've made some connections with members of this community that I hope will be long-lasting: there are some incredibly cool parents and kids here.

Since I have gathered that there are some school board and administrators reading this blog these days (when a couple of y'all make reference to the term "culture warriors" which I have only used here, let's just say it's pretty obvious), I have just a couple quick words. First, I wish to allay your concerns that the door has now been opened to an endless array of challenges to any and all rules at the school. That was never the plan. My wife and I have taught our kids that, as a general principle, their job in school is to get decent grades and give the educators and school officials their due respect (those are thankless jobs under the best of circumstances, whether in the k-12 system or in higher education). We've also been inspired by the words and deeds of many (e.g., Socrates, Mohandas Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, etc.) to challenge rules when they are unjust or are enforced unjustly, and have likewise passed that on to our kids. That's all that's going on here.

I gathered from some of the discussion that a few of y'all perceive the community as "divided" and naturally credit those of us who were cast into the role of dissidents as those responsible for all the divisiveness. On the contrary, it was those in authority who overstepped their bounds who bear the burden for whatever dissent was unleashed. Thankfully, the situation has been largely resolved, and there are a fair number of us who are relieved, rather than angry at this point in time. Of course, just some friendly advice, if by "divided" y'all are meaning "there are nonconformists in our midst, and we wish they would all go away" you're in for many years of feeling "divided." This is a small but culturally diverse town (however we wish to define "culture"), as I've mentioned before, and that diversity is not going away but strengthening. There is much to find pride in when looking at the coexisting individuals and groups who sometimes differ in significant ways, but who share in common our humanity.

Remember that pride and discipline make for nice sound-bites. We never really did get solid definitions of those terms. If they're code for conforming to some cookie-cutter image of the ideal White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (with a heavy dose of Calvinism thrown in for good measure), we're never going to agree. Those disagreements thankfully are still trumped by the Constitution and its amendments. One last thing: I realize that the values represented by my palabras Monday night might seem unsavory to a few of y'all, and that's cool. However, openly mocking - as one of you did - my words only serves as a source of amusement to me and my compañeros, and goes to demonstrate my point about the apparent recent lapses in self-restraint (or discipline) on the part of those who are supposed to set a better example. Just sayin'.

As a compañera in the blog world might say: onward!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Musical Interlude

"Low Rider" - a great mid-1970s tune by War:



Hope you dig it.

Mixing religious fanaticism with war

Arash Kamangeer, and Iranian-American who remembers the Iran-Iraq War well, mentions one of the propaganda devices that the Iranian government used and sees some eerie parallels with Sarah Palin's rhetoric as we've learned in the last few days:

One of the problems the government faced was opposition from legions of mothers whose sons had been maimed or died in the war. To confront this problem, the government-controlled TV would parade a mother whose son had died in the war in front of the TV on a regular basis. Invariably, this "show mom" would be carrying an infant child and a few other siblings with her. And invariably, she would say something to the effect that "I have given one child to this 'sacred' war, and I am ready to give the next one." Almost always, there would be an adoring crowd who would follow her statements by chants of "Allaho-Akbar" (God is Great). And again invariably, her statements would follow by a not-so-veiled threat from her and the adoring crowd. She would say something like "I and my family would not tolerate traitors and betrayals to the faith and country". Then the crowd would break into several standard chants such as "Death to traitors" or "War, war, until victory."

Sarah Palin was much better dressed than the average show mom paraded on Iranian TV more than 20 years ago. The show moms were typically dressed in a black veil. But that’s about the biggest difference. The rhetoric was eerily familiar. When she was finished, I knew I had seen her before. Only that it wasn’t her. It was her ideological predecessors at a different time in a different country.

[snip]

And then I wake the next morning and read that Sarah Palin is quoted as saying that the Iraq war is a "task that is from God." It’s like déjà-vu all over again.
There is actually another important difference between Palin and the "show moms" appearing on Iranian TV during the 1980s: Palin is actually a career politician who for now is a rising star in right-wing extremist circles. I am not sure if the tendency for despots to dress up war in religious imagery is unique to the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) - I suspect it isn't - but the phenomenon sure seems to happen too often for comfort. What Palin has been saying about the Iraq War is not much different than what Bush the Lesser has been known to say about the War on Terra. Both Palin and Bush the Lesser have made plenty of hay about their Dominionist credentials. And yes, there is a striking similarity to what Christian fundamentalists use as rhetoric to support the current destructive wars and the rhetoric used by Muslim fundamentalists use to support their wars against their enemies. Of course there is also the cynical use of children as stage props, but that seems to be politics as usual. Get past the superficial differences - our fundies might prefer powers suits whereas theirs prefer veils, and ours may shout "Maranatha" whereas theirs might shout "Allah be praised" - and it's basically the same sorry song and dance.