Jack Jodell at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST transitions from a lament about our willingness to sacrifice freedom for security to a case study in the value of faith in a crisis. I don't see the security/freedom choice as entirely binary. My apprehension comes from another direction. Jack's case of faith is stronger but probably not compelling to those not already committed. Should we believe what comforts or what we really see as truth?
Max's Dad, scourge of conservatives, is less than impressed with NSA leaker Ed Snowden. Why bother with national debates, elections, weighing security and privacy to find common ground, special judicial proceedings, when the slacker who came in from the cold is willing to appoint himself to decide?
"...because, you know, the incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low." That was Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ). Mad Mike's America brings us a variety of reaction, some of it surprisingly understanding.
News Corpse has the details of the great bicycle conspiracy, from its resurrection at the Wall Street Journal to its reburial with Colbert. Being of a certain age, I remember the long ago beginnings that others have forgotten.
PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, gets to the hard, hard core of the controversy around a descendant of Mexican immigrants singing the national anthem. Oddly, my grandparents, on one side, immigrated from the Ukraine. If I led the Star Spangled Banner at a national event, I'd be thrown out for non-racial reasons.
At Why do we have to do this, Sir? the erstwhile spiritual teacher ventures, with an aging colleague, into the traumatic universe of sex education in a classroom of kids. No mention of later therapy for the teachers.
The IRS controversy has, at its heart, what ought to be another controversy. Should a citizen be able to contribute huge sums to a political candidate and then take it off his income taxes? That practice does tend to raise taxes on the rest of us while giving some individuals enhanced influence with elected government officials.
Still, we should agree that such tax privileges shouldn't be given out on the basis of ideology. Last Of The Millenniums takes a look at what sorts of groups were given an additional edge in gaining that political tax advantage. The answer puts an interesting light on IRS practices.
Last week everyone learned there was a presidential connection to the IRS scandal as records showed 157 visits by the head of the agency to the White House. Tommy Christopher of Mediaite watches the incredible shrinking connection as the visits turn out not to be visits, but rather clearances for possible visits. Actual visits shrink from 157 to 23 to 11 confirmed meetings at the White House. 85% of the clearances were for implementation of health care changes.
Additional UNdocumented visits are possible, but why bother researching all that? Bill O'Reilly just repeats the original discredited story a week after his words are pre-discredited. Who would have guessed?
Rumproast chronicles a tough day in the currently tough life of John Boehner. A rebellion of more-conservative-than-thou Republicans in the House of Representatives nearly made Speaker Boehner ex-Speaker Boehner. The deciding vote was cast by a surprising source.
On a non-political note, Mad Mike's America explains how to tell if someone is drowning. It turns out drowning isn't at all what we see on television. In fact, it's very easy to miss, very worthwhile not missing. Worth the read.
Vincent of A wayfarer's notes begins with a park bench. He consults his childhood memory and finds it is more to him than a park bench. He expands his theme to transcendent contemplation of God, the Universe and the meaning of everything. Vincent is magnificent.
From the Baltimore Sun
Everyone begged William Lewis Moore not to go to Mississippi. His pastor told him he would get killed walking around in a sandwich board sign protesting segregation. His family worried about where he would sleep and eat.
Even fellow civil rights activists told the Baltimore postal worker it was a bad idea to walk hundreds of miles through the heart of the South. But Moore insisted on hand-delivering a letter to the governor of Mississippi, urging the staunch segregationist to change.
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The President of the United States used to be routinely offered respect, even by political opponents. I remember being angry as hell at Dan Rather back in 1974 during the Watergate troubles. As he began to ask a question, President Nixon chided him, "Are you running for something?" Rather snapped back, "No, sir, Mr. President. Are you?" It did not seem to me a friendly jibe. I didn't like Richard Nixon, but I didn't like demeaning the President to his face. In these days of "You lie!" those seem like days of amazing innocence.
Recently, a prayer breakfast produced another conservative hero, as Dr. Ben Carson rebuked the President with God's right of center positions on tax rates, health care, and national economic policy. That was some prayer. These are some contemporary conservatives.
More thoughtful than most, James Wigderson was entranced at another Carson presentation, this one in Wisconsin. Dr. Carson offered a series of conservative bromides one of which caught my attention. Dr. Carson educated his audience on the disproportionate share of taxes paid by the fantastically wealthy, which he sees as an obvious injustice.
One percent of Americans, says the good doctor, pays 37 percent of America's taxes. It's actually an old and discredited charge that originates at the conservative Tax Foundation, which ignores sales taxes, licenses, payroll taxes, local income taxes, state income taxes, property taxes, fees, tolls, energy taxes, and pretty much any tax that doesn't fit into the category of federal tax. Oh excuse me, that would be only federal income tax. When you include everything the "injustice" shrinks down to a slight progressive net.
I wrote about this a couple of years ago, and what I easily discovered remains available to anyone who can use an internet search engine. But Dr. Carson's divine rebukes from the Lord to the President apparently leave little room for actual facts. James Wigderson is also much in demand as a reporter and writer. He is very, very good. His busy schedule apparently provides no time to assist Dr. Carson or James' own readers with the research I'm sure he diligently performed.
Okay, so a remarkably good writer can have a bad day. Maybe next time.
Jack Jodell, friend of the working blogger at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST, celebrates the loss of one conservative leader and the prospective loss of another.
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite manages to avoid any gleeful dance with a dispassionate review of the Bachmann farewell announcement tape, music and all.
The best test for a theory, ideology, or scientific proposition is prediction. Mad Mike's America examines five such predictions made by one time conservative force Michele Bachmann.
News Corpse reports on the newest public figure accused by conservatives of participating in Islamic conspiracies as a secret spy. This head scratcher is a bit of ideological cannibalism. Tea Party becomes Donner Party.
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In response to Ryan's
Common Sense from an Opponent Is Still Common Sense
Imagine a society in which interracial marriage is a controversial issue. Party A supports it; Party B opposes it.
Now imagine that, for years, Party B has gained votes (or at least hasn't lost them) over its opposition to interracial marriage. However, in recent years, public opinion has shifted, such that a majority now supports interracial marriage and even considers its legalization to be of great moral significance. This shift in public opinion becomes a trend, but Party B maintains its opposition, ignoring Party A's advice. It begins to lose elections accordingly.
While I assume that you do not support Party B's position, you appear to support its approach.
Imagine a society in which abortion is a controversial issue. Party A supports it; Party B opposes it.
Now imagine that, for years, Party B has gained votes (or at least hasn't lost them) over its opposition to abortion. However, in recent years, public opinion has shifted, such that a majority (or at least a very vocal minority) now supports abortion and even considers its unfettered legalization to be of great "moral" significance. This shift in public opinion becomes a trend, but Party B maintains its opposition, ignoring Party A's advice. It begins to lose elections accordingly.
Party B can either throw in the towel and no longer stand firm on an issue which they consider a core moral principle in order to "get along with the times" and thus garner more votes, or they can stand fast in defense of life even if such a position isn’t trendy or politically expedient. Sometimes one has to be stalwart in his defense of core principles such as the protection of innocent life or any of the besieged liberties guaranteed to We The People in the Bill of Rights.
If one’s stance on such vital issues becomes contrary to current public sentiment and one’s party starts losing votes accordingly, one could do the cynical yet politically prudent thing and start moderating one’s position on abortion (etc.) in attempt to appeal to those disenchanted voters. OR, one can hold fast to one’s core principles and explain, fight, and attempt to educate the voting populace about why they might just be wrong in their current way of thinking and how the long term results of their current mindset will only prove to be harmful to society and to them.
Next, I consider George W. Bush to be an aberration where a "moderate" Republican did indeed win the White House. The fact that the vote was so close in 2000 only goes to prove my point. Had a true conservative/libertarian candidate emerged from the primary process that offered even a more stark difference between the candidates, I suspect the voting would not have been disputed and close.
Continuing, some post-election analysis of 2012 showed that a decisive number of conservatives and Republicans stayed home last November because they were not happy with the choice of Romney as the flag bearer for the GOP. While I had serious doubts and issues with Mr. Romney, I saw the alternative of Obama being reelected to be unacceptable.
As you stated Romney "beat" his other more conservative primary challengers and emerged as the party’s nominee. This was largely because he had the backing of the party apparatus, support functions, and money to do so. He would maintain the relative status quo, in other words. The GOP leadership and structure had no desire for a Cain or Santorum to come in and totally restructure Washington according to their more conservative vision. We thus got Romney and lost because they put forth a watered-down "severe" conservative. The fact that Romney would use such an adjective in describing his brand of conservatism is telling. No true conservative would have felt the need to characterize himself with such a silly moniker.
The GOP put up a moderate progressive against a severe progressive. The progressive electorate chose the more progressive candidate accordingly. I realize you find that to be horrible political analysis, and while I first wrote that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the fact of the matter is that it seems to be a fairly accurate observation.
T. Paine is a frequent and generous contributor. He can be found at Saving Common Sense, where only non-conservatives feel the need for silly monikers.
Prominent conservative Julian Sanchez has been having migraines dealing with the intricacies of the Freedom of Information Act. He not only resists any hint of discouragement, he writes a wonderful ode to the experience. Institutional runaround has evolved into wonderfully technical terms that are explained in lyrics, complete with links to definitions.
It is wearying contemplating the too common practice of hating people for the way they pray, for the way they worship, judging them harshly because of others who worship the same way. Mad Mike's America brings news of how a few Britons are reacting to a brutal attack by two renegade Muslims who attacked and murdered a British soldier on a city street. Not everyone is reduced to mindless hatred.
Last Of The Millenniums watches with fascination as a small group of Senate Republicans restrict the ever smaller circle of those sufficiently Republican to be trusted to the vanishing point. They now trust nobody at all. Not Democrats, not Republicans: nobody. Welcome to the future of the GOP.
News Corpse considers justifiable attacks on the IRS by Fox News for targeting the tax exempt status of conservative groups, then reconsiders in light of a previous Fox campaign to use the IRS against a critic of Fox News.
Conservative James Wigderson performs a bit of the Guilt by Association Dance for us, covering an appearance by Rev Jeremiah Wright as "an insight into the mind of President Barack Obama and the spirit of the leftwing that has captured the Democratic Party." If James is ever tempted to analyze words of my pastor to get into my mind, I'd suggest he find a less tenuous endeavor - one more fair to my church. I confess to independent thought. But we're approaching summer. Reruns seem fitting.
A Fox personality encourages physical attacks on Obama voters, tee-hee, then seriously broadcasts that she means it. So Rumproast gets nonviolent revenge by simply quoting other things she has said. Talk about cruel.
Jameel Jaffer, the Director of the Center for Democracy of the ACLU was on Rachel Maddow's program last night. He argued against the administration's position on the use of drones. Um... well... not exactly the administration's position.
He explained the position he opposed as: we are at war, so we have the right to kill Americans on foreign soil.
There is legitimate debate on both the rationale and on the procedures used prior to sending drones to administer deadly force. Misstating the opposing argument accomplishes little.
As I understand the administration's position, the moral case is roughly comparable to that of taking out a sniper randomly targeting pedestrians from a tower.
The immediacy of the danger is not that of time, but of accessibility. If a terrorist has participated in previous killings, cannot be captured, cannot be stopped by other means: if there is reasonable likelihood that more people will be targeted, and there is a limited window of opportunity, would such a person be killed justifiably? What additional standards would be reasonable?
I can think of one. Some mechanism of legal review should be in place. The executive branch must obtain judicial authorization, putting evidence before a magistrate showing cause. In cases involving too little time for that to be practical, a retrospective review should be required.
Right now, no such process seems to be in place.
But we don't hear that argument being made.
The case for a more contemplative system was not made last night. Instead, the administration was characterized as licensing themselves to kill because we are at war. Because we are at war.
We are at war, so we can kill whomever we want. We live at the pleasure of the President.
Perhaps civil liberties defenders actually think nothing really needs honest explanation. For my own benefit, I would like a slow and careful lesson in the distinction between Anwar Awlaki, killed in Yemen a year and a half ago, and Charles Whitman, killed in Texas 45 years before that.
Whitman had climbed to the 28th floor of the University of Texas Tower in Austin found a perch on the observation deck, and began firing at those walking on sidewalks below. He killed 17 people before Austin police were able to bring him down. He was not provided a Miranda warning. He was provided no judicial protections. The was no writ issued by any court authorizing his "execution".
Anwar Awlaki was active in al Qaeda. He had participated in the planning of a dozen terrorism plots in the United States, Canada, and Britain. As with Whitman, there appeared to be no opportunity to capture him. As with Whitman, he had killed before and it looked as if he was prepared to continue killing. As with Whitman, there was limited opportunity to kill him before he killed again.
It seems to me the argument against the Obama administration's policy of targeting an American outside the United States would be more compelling if there was some reasoning that did not rest on distortion of the administration policy. If that argument against President Obama's drone policy was buttressed by reasoning of its own, it would be even more persuasive.
Those arguing from the left often seem hobbled by an assumption. They believe their case is so strong, so self-evident, so compelling, no argument needs to be presented. Why re-litigate a question that has already been proven, a case that has already been closed?
The same weakness overwhelms journalists arguing against aggressive investigation of classified leaks. Angry passion is presented as if the anger itself is the only reasoning needed in order to make the case compelling.
There is, in law, a class of courtroom reasoning known as an affirmative defense. It is a form of argument that is not subject to the normal standard of innocent until proven guilty to a moral certainty. Insanity is one such defense. Self-defense - in most jurisdictions - is another. The prosecution in a murder case does not need to prove a defendant was not insane or that self-defense was not a factor. The burden of proof for these and a few other defense arguments is on the defendant.
In public opinion, in this case, an affirmative burden is on the critics.
To most of us, the only self-evident cases, the cases that need no argument, are that
terrorists who can't be captured and may kill again should be targets of deadly force, and
- government workers who have secret information about British or American spies, agents who have infiltrated terrorist organization or deranged dictatorships, should be hunted down and treated harshly if they betray those undercover agents.
Anyone who thinks differently should be given the opportunity to make their case.
Those critics should not be confused about the need for an affirmative case. Their position is not self-evident. They actually need to make a clear and compelling argument.
Most are not doing that.
Michael J. Scott of Mad Mike's America watches and chronicles the latest accusations against President Obama from the astounding Alan Keyes. Seems our President now conspires to commit genocide on the American people.
Conservatives are frustrated by a lack of public interest in Obama scandal. That might change as evidence is developed, but so far, Republicans are limited by two facts. Those incidents that involve wrongdoing were committed by fairly low level folk. Those that reach higher levels involve no wrongdoing. Conservative James Wigderson indulges in superficial parallels as he wistfully imagines what it would be like if Barack Obama turned out to be another Richard Nixon. No harm in idle imagination, I suppose.
We should try to contrive empathy with our friend T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense. He laments that nobody, aside from himself and his small group of the conspiratorially minded, are able to to wrap a series of scandals into an indictment of President Obama. Mr. Paine's accusations are not, actually, a conclusion. They form a premise. I mean, the Gosnell murders in Pennsylvania being part of White House corruption?
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite contrasts last week's released emails with earlier news reports about those same emails, when they were still classified, and determines that ABC News was not the only organization misled about Benghazi. A CBS reporter was also lied to by Republicans who fed false quotes to her that they claimed came directly from those messages.
Apparently conservative staffers counted on the actual memos to be forever classified. Last Of The Millenniums goes beyond the now famous "smoking gun" memo, reporting that Republicans turn out to have lied to reporters about the content of other emails as well.
Jack Jodell, at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST, is pessimistic, speculating that enough low-information voters will believe Fox-type news outlets to produce short-term electoral victories for Republicans, despite developing evidence of Republican duplicity in manufacturing evidence.
The wonderfully talented Vincent of A wayfarer's notes contrasts the freedom of blog writing with that of more traditional media. To illustrate, he turns his wrath on a hapless critic of an aspiring writer. The critic, the object of Vincent's unsparing review is the very repentant Vincent. Did I mention that Vincent is wonderfully talented?
Ryan at Secular Ethics reviews the theological problem of evil in the world, exploring the parallel issue of free will. Ryan hits on what, for many Christians, is one of the two most painful challenges to faith. The other is evil in ourselves.
With two clever endings to a creative ad!
Remember the guy who made the anti-Islam video just before Benghazi? News Corpse contemplates a news article on his violation of parole and subsequent jail time, reprinted at Fox News, but with a new insertion, implying a connection with President Obama.
Mad Mike's America reports on the newest anti-America conspiracy by the pretender in Chief. Seems conservatives now have discovered a plot to transform the US into a Muslim majority nation. J. Michael Scott seems skeptical.
Conservative James Wigderson is growing despondent about a Wisconsin school voucher program and Obamacare as he watches state senate Republicans get wobbly. I can see that this country needs more adamant Republicans. Conservatives are just too willing to compromise.
T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense, goes after President Obama on abortion. Fair enough. In this case, he succumbs to the temptation to overstate his case. Two points strike me immediately. He cites the case of Kermit Gosnell, providing unsafe and illegal abortions to desperate women who cannot get safe and legal abortions under Republican state government. Murder of occasional live, viable babies is a sometime additional result. T. Paine seems to believe this is proof that safe and legal abortions are too available. He goes on to repeat a long ago discredited allegation that, years ago, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama promoted late term abortions, a old slur that I dealt with five years ago.
In promoting political independence, Nancy Hanks at The Hankster revives something similar to the Al Smith formulation of 1928 that "the only cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy." She argues for curing corruption.
James Wigderson is upset because a liberal radio host made a tasteless revenge fantasy comment about the surviving Boston bomb murderer and prison rape. He is also angry at liberals for not protesting the comments.
Vincent of A wayfarer's notes glances out his window, sees a factory across the way, contemplates the seasons, the nature of countryside, dreams, and then goes completely Zen. What a wonderfully unpredictable mind.
Why do we have to do this, Sir?, covering a lot of ground, discusses a miracle of healing by Jesus, attacking the messenger when we hear truth, and how loyalty to ritual interferes with spiritual wholeness.
- MyCue at RANDOM THOUGHTS is back (Yay!) with two nominations for coolest song ever.
Don't miss the debate about the evil government anti ammunition conspiracy. Ryan takes on my friend T. Paine with occasional commentary by me. No gunfire at this point.
For Your Consideration:
Amazing photos from My Modern Met
For Your Consideration:
Baseball is a game that warps time and space, from time to time.
MILWAUKEE -- Chalk it up to the beauty of baseball. They were still debating the strange baserunning play from the night before at Miller Park on Saturday afternoon.
You probably have seen the video now of Brewers shortstop Jean Segura stealing second base, retreating to first in a weird rundown and then trying to steal second again, only to be caught the second time.
Watch the video.
Note - Too bad this play will follow Segura for the rest of his career.
The guy can also turn pretty neat plays like this, in additional video: