Asking Candidates About Their Faith (and Extraterrestrial) Beliefs

26 08 2011

“God chose me for that moment!” she thrills . . .

Following up after the GOP debate controversy around asking Rep. Bachmann about the implications of her bible-based wifely submission beliefs should she become President:

This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.

And let’s not skip too quickly over Read the rest of this entry »





Symphony of Science: the Poetry of Reality

14 05 2011




Serious T-Shirts, Hats and Saggy Pants All Trumped By My UTERUS!

7 04 2011

Uterus.

Uterus, uterus, uterus!

Uteri aren’t just for Floridians anymore. Did you know half of all Americans carry concealed uteri with us everywhere we go, even [gasp!] in public policy debate?

“Uterus” has a Facebook page, Twitter hashtags and — because it’s politics — pink buttons.

But most important, Democrats looking for a unifying theme amid dour legislative prospects have found it in a single, unlikely word. House Democrats have started wearing pink buttons that say uterus in capital letters.

Saunders, the minority leader, warned members at a Wednesday caucus meeting not to wear the buttons on the House floor.

If I hear one more professional political operative of any Read the rest of this entry »





For Burns Night, Our Resident Scot’s “Address to the Haggis”

25 01 2011

It’s January 25, time for Burns Night Supper and even Google is in the spirit:

Robert Burns, the world-renowned Scottish poet, was commemorated today with a Google Doodle.

. . .and you KNOW Young Son was playing Auld Lang Syne on his chanter this afternoon, and tonight will be in his tartan kilt and sporran and glengarry, piping away — as soon as he gets home from Irish step dance. 😉

So for your Burns Night pleasure, here is his Highland bagpipes tutor, Edinburgh native John McIlroy’s “Address to the Haggis” which translated for those of you not wearing tartan tonight, means the traditional Scotsman’s toast to the traditional Scotsman’s um, dinner.

See how much of it you can understand if you dare, or just revel in the brogue; either way enjoy, and then remember, the piper MUST be paid!





State of the Union: What’s in a President’s Word?

25 01 2011

Some words feature prominently in every US presidential State of the Union message, others come and go as events dictate or fashions change.

As President Barack Obama prepares to address Congress, we look at the ups and downs of the 10 nouns and adjectives (and one pronoun) used most often since 1790.

And to play the game at home, try Speech Wars: the Words That Make a Nation. Enter a word and find out how it ranks in SOTU speeches. For example, I discovered “war” has been said 2,757 times and “education” a comparatively few 544 times. The notes at the BBC site suggest war is underrepresented, too, because during the VietNam era it wasn’t used in SOTU much — it wasn’t officially “war.” (Maybe that’s what is in a name too, what isn’t talked about?)

You can get colorful timeline graphs you just roll your mouse over to instantly see which president/s used that word or those words compared head-to-head, more and less. For example, I could easily see that war is always being talked about more than education! — except two points in time separated by 40 years, when a beloved general and a beloved draft avoider each briefly saw education as worth more mentions than war — Ike and Clinton.

Then I compared “spending” and “investment” because I heard Mitch McConnell making a big deal of that on Meet the Press. (Something about how Democrats aren’t capable of investment, only spending no matter what they say. Presumably GOP pols know the difference and can do both.)

Anyway, that difference and when it’s used was worth thinking about and easy to do in this new way: I instantly saw that neither word came up much, until a huge spike of “spending” during the GOP 70s and 80s (Nixon, Ford, Reagan but not Carter) upon which time Clinton switched dramatically back to a whole lot of “investment” — and then Bush switched right back to “spending” again! 😉





“I Want to Live Up to Her Expectations”

13 01 2011

UPDATE Friday am – Michelle Obama writes open letter to Thinking Parents here.

***********

It was magnificent, the best since his race speech as a candidate imo. As a mom and educator, of course my favorite part was about setting an example for the children, whose hope is yet undimmed, who believe us and believe IN us:

“I want to live up to her expectations

I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it

I want America to be as good as she imagined it. . .

ALL of us, we should do everything we can, to to be sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations!”

If we’re lucky and smart, it will turn out that fine words like these matter most.





Private Power of Story in Censorship

15 11 2010

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION (subscription only)
“The Future of Free Speech”
By Tim Wu

Tim Wu is a professor of law at Columbia Law School. His new book, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, was just published by Knopf.

This is what speech management looks like in 2010. No one elected Facebook or YouTube, and neither one is beholden to the First Amendment. Nonetheless, it is their decisions that dictate, effectively, who gets heard.

What’s the answer? There is no easy answer. Monopolies like Google, Facebook, and Hollywood have certain advantages: That’s why they tend to come into existence. That means the American public needs to be aware of the dangers that private censors can pose to free speech.

The American Constitution was written to control abuses of power, but it didn’t account for the heavy concentration of private power that we see today.

And in the end, power is power, whether in private or public hands.

More snooking on censorship power of story:

School theatre and citizen censorship

Ideas are incombustible

More t-shirts and dress message stories, from stupid to dead serious this time

So we were saying censorship is a bad thing . . .

How the Oscars offended me today

Palin’s “Actual Responsibilities” as Madame Mayor

Ignorance makes the N-word Even Scarier Unspoken





How the Mosque Fearmongering Got Going

16 08 2010

Like the right of the First Lady and her nine-year-old daughter to visit Spain for a few days, much less the right to marry in California while gay even if white conservative Christian activists determined to take over State via Church slam their very existence as “tacky” or “unwise” oh, or “disrespectful” (code for offensive to real Americans), uppity rival religions anywhere in this great nation obviously can’t count on the Constitution in the same way those same white conservative Christians demand as THEIR god-given right.

Glenn Greenwald:

This is one of the most impressive and commendable things Obama has done since being inaugurated . . . what makes it particularly commendable is that there is no political gain to be had from doing it, and substantial political risk.

Justin Elliot: “[N]early 7 in 10 Americans now say they oppose the project. How did the Cordoba House become so toxic, so fast?”

See the Salon timeline of orchestrated mass hysteria on a cracker, a la Joe McCarthy:

To a remarkable extent, a Salon review of the origins of the story found, the controversy was kicked up and driven by Pamela Geller, a right-wing, viciously anti-Muslim, conspiracy-mongering blogger, whose sinister portrayal of the project was embraced by Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post.

Here’s a timeline of how it all happened:

Harry Reid Says Mosque Should Be Built Somewhere Else

Angle and Vitter Issue Unasked-for Opinions on “Ground Zero Mosque”





Sarah Palin Again: THIS is News?

18 04 2010

Sarah Palin criticized President Barack Obama on Saturday . . .

Not news to me! And certainly this fact about Sarah Palin herself isn’t news, except maybe that she is so freely admitting it?

“I don’t understand. . .”

So this next part can’t be news to anyone!

The Republican criticized Obama throughout her speech –

Btw it also is not news that the other Big O in Palin’s newfound fame, you know, Oprah, famously intones: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Back on the first of August 2008, when everything about this fascinating new political persona really was news and we couldn’t get enough about her, JJ wrote:

“I never heard the woman’s name until this morning, so I looked around for clues to her character. Is she indeed Saint Sarah, fresh-faced military mom and public corruption crusader? One thing’s clear, she’s working class and no elite intellectual. . .
[And] never mind what happened to the actual men whose careers were damaged by Palin’s self-justifying actions. Winning is the only thing that counts, right?

She showed us the same thing this week, in this story:

Palin said she hopes the November elections will produce winners

John McCain has showed so many different selves as authentic that I can’t believe any of them any more — except that he’s come full circle now, once again pretty compelling as desperate prisoner feeling the pain who will say anything to save himself — and Palin has been showing us exactly who she is from Day One, so it shouldn’t be any news that I believe that’s who she really is.

But I guess it might be news that even some smart conservative kids are seeing who she is, and believing. And criticizing her publicly for it and cashing in, with or without bendy straws.





Politics as Usual? You Betcha . . .

2 02 2010

Dr. Frank Luntz Pens GOP Talking Points Memo: The Language of Financial Reform





Read Their Lips: Some SERIOUS Mental Mistakes Out There!

25 01 2010

Here are three connected “what’s in a name?” rants from today:

Rant One
So the Dickensian SC Lt Gov has just ruined the whole freedom storyline about the GOP No-Go to any human services for anyone (Haiti too?) He let the cat out of the bag literally, when he compared people in need to stray animals that need to be left to starve — and without health care, no doubt — so they won’t breed.

“You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply,” Bauer continued. “They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

Somebody in this story doesn’t know any better all right, but to me, it sounds like him! America as Animal Farm, and some pigs are more equal than others? Maybe his pack of alpha wolves deserve credit for shrewd animalistic survival instincts at least. No wonder they need all those guns guaranteed by their piggy view of the Constitution, rather than the human services by which all living animals could be treated humanely. So many strays are starving and sick these days that they might turn on their overlords and start fighting back . . .

***************
Rant Two
I just saw a nice conservative Christian school and homeschool teacher, well-educated, longtime advocate for home education — with whom I collaborated to oppose mandatory universal preschool among other things — use a puzzling term completely new to me:TOTUS. She linked it to a news story about the President giving a speech in these dire times, followed by her comment: “The TOTUS speaks to children.”

Treasury head maybe?

I was determined to figure it out for myself, ran through various possibilities as if I were doing a crossword puzzle, but no luck. The thumbnail looked like it could be the President? — maybe among themselves they sneer at him as Teacher or Totalitarian of the US?

Sigh, finally I Googled it. Maybe I am the last person to hear this for the first time or maybe you don’t know either. If you do know, have you really thought about what this label packs in its punch?

These are people agitating to change the constitution to define all human life as fully human even before birth, even when it is just a potentiality — in the same breath they politically dehumanize this extraordinary (and certainly living, breathing) human being who represents all Americans and leads our humanitarian efforts throughout the globe.

At least when their derision insisted he wasn’t American-born and wasn’t black enough or too much like Hitler and was palling around with terrorists, he was still presumably — if barely — “human!”

And at least when Limbaugh snatched away that humanity to call him a giant alien cockroach, he was still a LIFEFORM. But this new political derision is more damning and dismissive even than that: now the President Barack Obama is not only not human, but not even animal life like the stray cats and dogs we must harden our hearts against and not feed, to prevent them from breeding more unfortunate lives to clutter up our conscience (see Rant One): now he’s not even animal or insect, not even ALIVE. Only a machine.

And not even a learning machine that can think for itself and help humankind in valued partnership, like say, Data on “Star Trek: Next Generation.” A stupid machine we should junk. (Alternately, evil enemy technology.)

They are crowing this week that it’s a triumph for American values that suddenly even CORPORATIONS are human and guaranteed individual human rights — but not the Teleprompter?
Think about it. WWJD?

See The Lucifer Effect for more.

***********
Rant Three
Sean Hannity said today on his radio program, and I quote: “I think it is wrong to plan your life.” (Really, then surely it’s wrong to plan other people’s childbearing and marriages and sexual expressions and access to human food, shelter, medicine and health care through government, much less raise armies to fight wars to reshape lives and nations and whole regions of the globe to suit YOU. And if it’s wrong for anyone to plan this life, surely it’s even wronger to spend a moment’s effort trying to plan the next one??)

Meanwhile, back on earth, in reality, among sentient beings, Hannity’s broadcast stance against the morality of human volition, of planning and pursuing life goals, surely devalues every individual’s hard work, savings, initiative, education. All missionary work and politics. All commitments such as friendship, marriage and raising a family. All these are by his simple pronouncement that planning is wrong, rendered worse than pointless — actually wrong!

These are stupid, exasperating and poorly thought out ideas, dangerous even — still I wouldn’t call him not human or not alive, for spouting them.





Young Son the Political and Cultural Cynic

28 10 2009

So you know he’s been reading Les Miserables, all 1,400 pages.

I guess it makes sense he would relate the author’s social themes to his own present reality as synched up with his own favorite social commentary artists by night, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and as opposed to the years of rantings and vitriol he’s heard by day from Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity on the car radio.

He chortled over a narrative passage (I think describing the Thenardier family) last night, reading it aloud to the whole family and marveling that Hugo had somehow anticipated the third-millennium GOP! 😉

I probably wouldn’t have blogged it except then this morning, I saw he had posted it to FaceBook:

“There are souls which, crablike, crawl continually toward darkness, going back in life, rather than advancing in it;
using what experience they have to increase their deformity; growing worse without ceasing, and becoming steeped more and more thoroughly in an intensifying wickedness.”

— Victor Hugo, sound like anybody you know of?