Wednesday, April 12, 2006

What If We Nuked Iran While American Idol Was On?
Earlier this week, I guessed that the decision to attack Iran has already been made, and that now we're going through the same "roll-out" period we did in late 2002, when the administration kept protesting that war against Iraq was not inevitable, all the while trolling for excuses to make it look like Saddam's fault--and fabricating them as necessary. The mighty Billmon thinks the same thing, although as usual, he says it better and in more detail.

Billmon's post is primarily about how American public opinion and the world might react to a nuclear strike on Iran. What Americans would think is especially interesting to me. It's natural for people like you and me to imagine that dropping a nuclear weapon, even a tactical bunker-buster in a surgical strike, would wake people up for good and all, and finally get Americans into the streets by the millions with ropes for the lampposts, ready to string up the perpetrators like Mussolini. Well, not so fast there, reality-based universe person:
What I'm suggesting here is that it is probably naive to expect the American public to react with horror, remorse or even shock to a U.S. nuclear sneak attack on Iran, even though it would be one of the most heinous war crimes imaginable, short of mass genocide. Iran has been demonized too successfully – thanks in no small part to the messianic delusions of its own end-times president – for most Americans to see it as a victim of aggression, even if they were inclined to admit that the United States could ever be an aggressor. And we know a not-so-small and extremely vocal minority of Americans would be cheering all the way, and lusting for more.

More to my point, though, I think it's possible that even something as monstrously insane as nuclear war could still be squeezed into the tiny rituals that pass for public debate in this country – the game of dueling TV sound bites that trivializes and then disposes of every issue.
Something buried in the Seymour Hersh New Yorker article over the weekend that hasn't been mentioned much was the suggestion that Bush feels he's the only president who can stop Iran--and that includes future presidents. It's clear, after yesterday's announcement about Iran having enriched uranium, that Bush will atttack Iran sooner rather than later--but what happens if, by the summer of 2008, he feels he hasn't finished the job? If he's the only person in American history, present or future, who can accomplish this holy task, what's to stop him from refusing to leave office when his time is up? Certainly not American public opinion. If Billmon's take is correct, Bush would be able to get away with that, too.

Yuck Yuck Icky Icky Eww Gross: P.Z. Myers at Pharyngula writes today about a Lutheran church in Minnesota that had a contract to provide social services for Anoka County in the Twin Cities' suburbs. However, it refused services to a male-to-female transsexual because "this person's outward behavior contradicts the church's teaching" (The Lutheran church has teaching on transsexuals?) and is "contrary to God's revealed will." Plus, they had some kind of problem with her using the bathroom, which is brain-rattlingly stupid, even for Minnesota. P.Z. comments with the Quote of the Day:
And this is exactly why I will always oppose any attempt to draft the godly into the business of supporting the social safety net. It is this pretense of knowing the will of an invisible being, which they freely use to give their bigotry the deity's imprimatur, which makes them untrustworthy. Anyone who makes untestable claims of a god's will, claims that can't be verified by anyone else, is suspect—it's simply too convenient an out. And when it's used to make an innocent suffer, it's simply contemptible.
Amen, brother.

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