- Last Of The Millenniums summarizes the state of the debate on gun safety and makes it personal.
tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors wants to help out Bill Kristol. In the event Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, Bill is asking for suggestions on what to name a third party. Oh come on! Be nice.
- Vincent visits again (Yayy!) at A wayfarer's notes, explaining a bit of the source of his fascination with the chance encounters with older neighbors, and how physical structure says something about lives and life.
|In so many forgotten corners of the world,|
|a small infant born in poverty,|
|without a home, without a place.|
|The still, faint hope for the future of the world.|
|An infant so small.|
|A promise so great.|
|Christ is born today.|
Jack Jodell is back at The Saturday Afternoon Post, although only for the moment. Computer and family health problems continue to take a toll. Jack fights his way in to provide his annual award for political Bozo of the Year.
Dinesh D’Souza writes a book about his time in prison and the insight this gives him about despicable Democrats. Stinque publishes D’Souza's lengthy, self-serving blurb, followed by a short funny retort.
- At Crooks and Liars, Blue Gal brings to us a different, unique, view of Star Wars.
Conservative James Wigderson reacts to the mass shooting in California, outraged that screening of Syrian refugees failed so spectacularly, pointing out that the young woman passed a counterterrorism screening.
Had he relied on a little more than a gut feeling he might have discovered that xenophobes have pretty much ignored the cursory check on most visa entries, but have focused on refugees, who undergo a 2 year admission check.
You know, those who are provoked by this woman's K-1 temporary visa to attack Syrians.
Libertarian Michael A. LaFerrara at Principled Perspectives divides Islam into radicals and moderates, suggesting that all Muslims must choose between them. If he is right, then which side do conservatives support when they engage in anti-Muslim rhetoric?
Capt. Fogg at Human Voices mourns the tragic losses due to gun violence, but then speaks of unreasoning rhetoric, lapsing into his addiction to both-sides-guilty-ism. I don't mind moral equivalence as a conclusion. I do object to it as a premise.
At Crooks and Liars, Blue Gal has a campaign poll that ties candidates to last week's Thanksgiving dinner. Okay, it's fiction. It shouldn't be.
tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors brings us news from those who believe all true Christians hate gay people. Apparently there is a new problem, no place left to Christmas shop. Must be hard on the mouth to be perpetually purse-lipped.
- Stinque provides what has become a familiar pattern, this time with a successful television personality whose failures as a journalist have largely gone unnoticed. Ted Koppel writes a book on cyberattack. Stinque writes a paragraph that rips it to tiny little pieces.
Some Republicans want to allow only Syrian Christians in as refugees. They seem to have trouble articulating how a refugee can prove Christianity. How can we tell?
I do have one suggestion. It is a simple test.
Anyone who agrees that we should not provide sanctuary to non-Christian refugees trying to escape death for themselves and their children can safely be declared not to be Christian.
But we did a bit of research, and it isn't real. Fox never showed it. It turns out to be a satiric piece presented on Saturday Night Live in early 2014.
to get episodes automatically downloaded.
"All I meant was that he doesn't understand what living in the ghetto can do to a man."
"And you do?"
"Well-l-l ... I'm studying it in my sociology class."
From All in the Family. Season 2 Episode 4, October 9, 1971
The isolation every human experiences at times, the distance from other humans, is bridged by commonalities, large and small. But when distances are so great that every bridge becomes suspect, how do we find and trust any common experience?
As the death toll in France went from a few to multiples of ten, then over a hundred, and continued upward, I could see and feel the parallels with the nightmarish past.
On September 11, 2001, my young daughter was attending school in the Washington, DC area. She and I wept together by phone, wondering how such cruelty could exist.
She mourned a double tragedy with friends who had lost loved ones at the Pentagon, and who then worried for their own safety from fellow Americans. They were Muslim, and they found themselves targets yet again. Those whose instincts go to hatred had seized the moment, and at any moment could seize the streets.
Today, grim news and terrible imagery have come to us from Europe. Increases in hostility can be measured in America through the science of polling data. And we see visual evidence in occasional assaults and property damage.
In France, threats against Muslims and vandalism against their places of worship are on a predictable rise. But there is a counter-weight of sorts. Muslims are invited to join marches and vigils against terrorists. Islamic Imams gather in public to lead La Marseillaise, the French National Anthem. Interfaith gatherings condemn terrorist violence. Muslim leaders from around the world join in speaking out.
And yet. There is an undercurrent that is faintly familiar. It is collective blame, collective attacks, and even collective contrition.
A few months after the 9/11 attacks, Wall Street reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped by terrorists in Pakistan. As a captive, he was murdered on camera.
At a memorial service, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf spoke about his own unity with people of faith and those outside of any professed faith. He then directed his remarks directly to Daniel Pearl's father. We have the words in transcript, and they are profound.
If to be a Jew meant devotion in heart, mind, and soul, to the God of all, then, said the Imam, "not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one, Mr. Pearl." If being a Christian meant to love God and to love fellow human beings, he said, "then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one, Mr. Pearl." He stated, simply, that to be a Muslim is, in that respect, no different.
It was a sensitive and moving moment. Then came something remarkable.
We are here especially to seek your forgiveness and of your family for what has been done in the name of Islam.
The Imam was expressing contrition on behalf of a faith he believed to have been betrayed by terrorism.
In a similar position, perhaps I would find within myself the ability to respond with defenseless grace. Or perhaps I would not feel the need for forgiveness for the way I worship God. There are limits to my imagination. I cannot know, I cannot truly envision what it is to be considered guilty by association of something so hideous. I understand only that true understanding escapes me.
I do seek my own slight measure of empathy. But the portrayal of Christians on radio and television do not match up. Rabid hatemongers are presented as spokespeople for Jesus, for Christianity, for Christians, for me. But the presentation of hate is not terrorism, as I understand the word. Intolerant speech is not murder.
Association with the narrow-minded because of a common faith is not personally threatening to me or my family or to those of like mind. I have nothing to fear because I worship in ways similar to those whose idea of persecution is a greeting by a department store holiday employee. I do not feel contrition on behalf of my faith when I hear of Christian warriors marching bravely as to war on their holy crusade against coffee cups at Starbucks.
When Phil Robertson, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, James Dobson speak foolishness or bigotry, when they are presented by unknowing television hosts as representing "the Christian point of view," I react only as I would to a drunken bigot at a family gathering. It is not because televised Christian personalities are an affront for sharing my faith. Their words represent a minor disappointment simply because they are fellow humans.
I don't know that I can understand what burden some of our brothers and sisters may carry because they are Muslims. I hope they look into their hearts and discover the freedom to reject that burden. I hope they are secure from violence or ridicule while walking neighborhood streets.
While I cannot know what it is like to be a target, I do understand some of what is in me. I know I need to reject openly the notion of collective guilt and to defend the targets of bigotry.
It is not because the attackers, like me, believe they are Christian.
It is because we; the targets, the attackers, and I; have the common experience of being human.
Demands by the Republican candidates have occasionally gone to studio environment and debate format, but mostly have centered on moderator willingness to challenge. The Republican National Committee has picked up on that theme and it seems to resinate among the base. The Big Empty has given it some thought, and presents a debate host who will meet the new Republican standard.
The Spring Valley assault of a disobedient student is well known. Often forgotten is a second student who was arrested. The Intersection of Madness and Reality has a video interview with the second arrested student.
Conservative James Wigderson has found a liberal piece on gun control authored by a college professor. The piece to which Wigderson reacts is so amateurish he does not believe it came from that professor or from any liberal. He suggests some conservative played a dirty trick on the paper.
The professor's thesis is that President Obama let America down by not unilaterally banning all guns from America, presumably by some sort of executive order. The alleged author happens to be from my alma mater and the newspaper in question is one I once read every day. I can only attest to the existence of the professor, having looked it up, and the idiocy of the professor's article, having read it. I appreciate Wigderson's generosity, but it looks like the drivel is genuine.
Green Eagle remembers Martin Shkreli, who bought a pharma corporation for the sole purpose of cornering the market on a low cost drug lots of people need to survive and jacking up the price to more than many mortgage payments. It seems market forces may have dealt a blow to at least this bad guy. Oh well, on to the next Romney-type project.
Tommy Christopher, writing for Mediaite, challenges the notion that nobody could have predicted the 9/11 attacks of 2001 with several very public predictions. Actually, I don't think movies should count, but Donald Trump? Yeah. I suspect Tommy left out three dozen CIA warnings because, in fairness, they were not public.
Human Voices takes an all-sides-are-guilty approach to the gun safety debate. This time all the liberal sobbing about little kids being killed is manipulative and overblown because the number of little kids killed by bullets each year is holding fairly steady. So it's all good, and damn liberals are same as the NRA.
Contrary to popular belief, single mothers are not the bane of existence. We are not just laying around having babies and collecting welfare. Single mothers and their children work hard, every single day, to create better lives and opportunities for themselves. Maybe instead of passing judgment on what goes on in the inner workings of someone else’s household you begin to look at how you can get involved and help your own family and community.
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Courtesy of alert reader and frequent contributor Trey: the results of the congressional investigation into Planned parenthood's finances has been announced. Chairman Jason Chaffetz says they found the organization did nothing wrong. That would be nothing.
After the Roseburg killings, President Obama's visit to the families of the shooting victims was picketed by protestors chanting that he was not welcome in the community. Last Of The Millenniums does the research and discovers how many holding signs are actual residents.
Despite some Democratic support, Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post sees the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) as part of a larger conservative Congressional pattern.
Hannah Arendt is familiar to me mostly for her commentary on Nazism after watching the trial and execution of Adolf Eichmann, and her title describing the seductiveness of thinly veiled savagery, "the banality of evil."
Some conservatives are a little irritiated that Jeb Bush has been getting flack for dismissing shooting deaths with the out-of-context remark "stuff happens." tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors disagrees and provides context via video recordings.
- Vincent at A wayfarer's notes begins to see life the way he sees art.
Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post sees lions dens. He ties Pope Francis at Congress with Bernie Sanders at Liberty University.
Conservative James Wigderson, who had been enthusiastic about Scott Walker, believes he knows why the campaign shriveled, crumbled, and blew away.
It was big news when corporate executives actually got prison time for deliberately sending contaminated peanut butter in for processing. Kids got sick. People died. Ted McLaughlin at jobsanger writes about a lonely hero in all that mess, a whistle-blower who worked hard to bring culprits to justice.
Vincent at A wayfarer's notes is a creative writing genius. He constructs wonderful walks through the countryside of the mind and invites us with him. He applies his talent explaining how difficult it is to write when there is too much to write about. Unbelievably, he makes writing about writing entertaining and enlightening. It's another of his colorful walks. How does he do that?
One of the irritations in the life of a believer in any religion is the occasional arrogant reasoning used in defending it from non-congregants. PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, has been willing to ridicule the quality of some attacks on religion. Now he takes on a few arguments against atheism by an Oxford professor. I once expressed my own reasoning, or lack of it, in believing as I do. It largely amounted to a personal confession of limitation. In the end, I lack the capacity to sustain an alternate way of looking at existence.
Green Eagle expresses a bit of skepticism about press coverage of the election, debate, and policy.
Republicans are forever coming up with new schemes to replace Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid with vouchers. They have lost out, so far, when it is inevitably pointed out that these ideas are barely disguised plans to eliminate the programs. Libertarian Michael A. LaFerrara at Principled Perspectives reacts to yet another voucher program. He points out the danger of watering down conservative principles with voucher programs. Instead, he suggests conservatives should advocate for purity and simply abolish such government sponsored retirement and medical programs.
Last Of The Millenniums anticipates conservative religious differences with a pope who does not worship wealth, xenophobia, or climate denial.
- Dog Bless Us One And All really, truly hates this cell phone service provider.
From The Washington Post:
Republican congressional leaders, hoping to avert another government shutdown in two weeks, have embarked on a series of maneuvers in hopes of quelling the conservative anger in their party that is threatening to blow up plans to keep the government funded and functioning.
But the efforts to channel the conservatives’ fury over Planned Parenthood away from the government funding debate appear unlikely to succeed
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The Big Empty has the perfect empathetic reminder of how wrong is the anti-social contract rhetoric of Republican Ben Carson.
In response to Burr Deming's Kim Davis and the Mahatma
The legacy of Dr. King will be measured in lifetimes.
The controversy involving Kim Davis will be measured in lunchtimes.
That is too bad. Her message, as relayed by her representatives, is her willingness to pay prices. Rather than resisting the rule of law, she submits to its penalties.
- Burr Deming, September 8, 2015
Given that Davis has appealed the ruling on the grounds that her incarceration was unexpected, I'm not sure that we can say that she is willing to face the penalties for breaking the law. Anyway, this isn't some noble act of civil disobedience to a harmful law. This is just a case of an individual who refused to step down from her taxpayer-funded position when its duties required her to sign papers indicating that a gay couple has met the legal (not religious or moral) requirements for marriage.
Her personal approval of the union is not even relevant to her duty, so I don't think that this should be considered a violation of her conscience. Even if it is, the fact that gay marriage is harmless should be enough to put to rest the idea that she is comparable to King.
To put this in the context of desires: her behavior so far indicates only that her desire to act in accordance with her religious beliefs about marriage outweighs her desires to avoid bad publicity and at least some forms of legal punishment. We cannot say that she has such a desire to act in accordance with all of her religious beliefs, as surely she has willingly signed off on other "immoral" unions. She is almost certainly a hypocrite accordingly.
We also cannot say with certainty yet that she would rather face any (reasonable) legal punishment than violate her own moral code. There is really nothing praiseworthy about Davis's principles or behavior.
I will, however, make one point in her defense: her prior three marriages are not relevant. Hypocritical as it may seem for her to protect marital sanctity against gay couples even though she has had three divorces--the ultimate violation of marital sanctity--herself, her values supposedly changed when she converted to her current religion.
Just as a reformed murderer or thief or adulterer should be allowed to condemn such behavior in others with his new understanding that it is wrong, Davis should not be criticized for the change in behavior that accompanies the change in her beliefs. If we are to accuse her of being a hypocrite, it should be for applying her new religious beliefs to only some immoral unions and perhaps, if county clerks are involved in it, signing off on religiously unjustified divorces.
Ryan is a frequent commenting participant and occasional contributor. His opinions are insightful, his insights appreciated. Please visit Ryan at his own site, Secular Ethics