Monday, November 27, 2006

Intelligence Is As Intelligence Does

I agree with Matt -- it's important that the chair of the Intelligence Committee be someone who was right about the biggest intelligence issue of our time. And that's why Nancy Pelosi will be right to replace Jane Harman, preferably with Rush Holt or Silvestre Reyes.

I have nothing against Reyes, but I'm drawn to Holt by the sort of identity politics that I'm the most susceptible to. He's the former assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, giving rise to "My Congressman is a Rocket Scientist" bumper stickers in his New Jersey district. I have an immediate trust in skilled academics from rigorous fields of study. There's also the point that he's a really smart guy.

It would also be cool for Pelosi to make the point that doing your job well -- that is, being right about which countries have WMD and which don't -- can trump seniority in making you a committee chair.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Jesus Camp

A few nights ago I and a bunch of Michigan grad students went to see Jesus Camp, a documentary about a summer camp that trains 9 and 10 year old children, many of them home-schooled, to become good young religious fundamentalists. The subjects of the documentary, with only one exception, were happy about how they were portrayed, and that didn't surprise me. The film wasn't heavy-handed with its view of the events, and the participants are probably the proudest of some of the events that struck me as the most dangerous. (The one exception is disgraced megachurch pastor Ted Haggard, filmed long before his scandal broke. He and the anti-abortion activist who comes to speak to the kids are probably the two creepiest characters in the film.)

Many of the movie's most striking moments involve its central character, children's pastor Becky Fischer, who runs the camp and is open about the fact that she's trying to create a new generation of voters and activists who will increase Christian dominance of our country. She warns the children away from Harry Potter, telling them how in the Old Testament, warlocks would be put to death. There's a scene where an adult leads a bunch of kids in a strange version of the Pledge of Allegiance -- not to the American flag, but to the "Christian Flag". In another scene, churchgoers worship a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush.

To me, the most memorable characters in the movie are the kids. Jesus Camp shows us the beginnings of lots of stories -- the rat-tailed boy whom the camp is grooming for a job as an evangelical leader someday, the 10-year-old girl into Christian heavy metal who talks about how she tries to dance for Jesus and not for "the flesh", and the small boy who tearfully admits in front of everyone that it's hard to believe in God because there isn't any real evidence of his existence. Since the camp only lasts a summer, and the movie ends somewhat abruptly, we really can't get a good idea of how these stories play out. Perhaps they'll make a sequel in twenty years and we'll know the answer.

In the meantime, I'm going to be including the argument from design and the problem of evil in the introductory philosophy classes I teach. The philosophy classroom is a unique place in the world, a place where reason and open discussion have the opportunity to dissolve indoctrination of all kinds. Becky Fischer has made her move, and it's my turn.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Chart

Here's an updated chart on how the candidates from my ActBlue page did in the election. Democratic leads are in blue, Republican leads are in red. For a full analysis, go here.

Democrat GOP Win?Office $ We Gave % Margin Vote Margin
Jim Webb George Allen Yes! Senate, VA $645 50-49 7,261
Victoria Wulsin Jean Schmidt unlikely House, OH-2 $1,865 51-49 2,856
Darcy Burner David Reichert No
House, WA-8 $1,320 51-49 2,736
Gary Trauner Barbara Cubin No House, WY $835 48-48 970
Larry Grant Bill Sali No House, ID-1 $715 50-45 11,982
Larry Kissell Robin Hayes recount House, NC-8 $535 50-50 465
Jennifer Brunner Greg Hartmann Yes! OH SecState $155 55-41 ~500K
Ross Miller Danny Tarkanian Yes! NV SecState $130 49-41 ~47K
Mark Ritchie Mary Kiffmeyer Yes! MN SecState $130 49-45 ~100K

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hooray for Shakespeare's Sister!

I'm overjoyed that you're seriously thinking about joining us, and very proud of my role in (potentially) bringing you onto the team. May universal health care, judges who respect people's rights, a humane foreign policy, and the end of poverty in America be the fruits of our efforts.

Stuff I should've posted here

The post describing how all of the Werewolf Political Strategy candidates did in the 2006 elections. (I'm very proud, even if some of the results are just maddening.)

A discussion of how to run a better field campaign.

A farewell to Russ Feingold, who declared his non-candidacy, and whom I hope will take a leading role in the new Senate's investigations of Bush