Let’s be honest about it, in the First Amendment, religious freedom, religious expression, that really express matters to the Constitution. So, if the Muslims own that property, that private property, and they want to build a mosque there, they should have the right to do so. ... There’s a question of whether it’s too close to the 9/11 area, but it’s a few blocks away, it isn’t right there. … And there’s a huge, I think, lack of support throughout the country for Islam to build that mosque there, but that should not make a difference if they decide to do it. I’d be the first to stand up for their rights.I can hear the cynics on the right now: "He's old school. He doesn't represent real Republicans today." But in so many ways, Hatch actually represents really old school Republicanism -- as in Abraham Lincoln.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Sunday, August 29, 2010
The study included Christians of all stripes -- from Catholics to Protestants of both conservative and liberal denominations. Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can't talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.This is definitely worrying establishment Christians -- and, I would imagine, political Christians (aka Christianists) -- but I think it looks more like the building blocks of tolerance, inclusion, and moderation rather than orthodoxy. Sort of a Reform movement among those who don't follow Judaism.
Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."
Heaven forbid these teens should eventually accept gays, shun preemptive war, be concerned about civil liberties, and believe there is more than one path to the infinite.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Personally I’m not interested in “limited government” as an end in itself, but as a means to greater individual liberty. I’m opposed to government programs that waste taxpayer dollars because higher taxes restrict my freedom. But I’m much more opposed to government programs that use taxpayer dollars to restrict freedom directly. I’m not interested in joining a “limited government” movement that considers the two equivalent. And I’m definitely not interested in being part of a movement that gives torture and preemptive war a free pass under the heading of “national defense” while it focuses instead on fighting the tyranny of SCHIP and unemployment insurance.No one argues that a strong national defense is a worthwhile government program. But, no matter what so-called movement conservatives say, we do not have to concede an expansion of that program to include warrantless eavesdropping, torture, and illegal war-waging as a way to defend liberty. The whole Cheneyite "dark side" argument was a pretext for directing billions of taxpayer dollars into the bank accounts of corporate interests friendly to the president. The events of 9/11 gave them conveniently perfect cover. The fact is, abiding by the Constitution is the best way to defend liberty, because the Constitution already does a great job of defending liberty all by itself.
And, while we're on the topic of the Constitution, "promote the general welfare" is one of the topics of the Preamble. Every citizen should be able to benefit from what the government could provide. A strong national government could insure the expansion of land holdings, industry, and investment. So it naturally follows that people who fall through the cracks are given a safety net by which that can get back on their feet again and start giving back.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Since my family has recently grown to include a dog for the first time in over 35 years, I am particularly attentive to stories about dogs doing extraordinary things. With hat tip to Bob Cesca, here is a fantastic YouTube video showing a Labrador with his best friend. Amazing.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
However, here comes this Sullivan reader who puts the whole thing into perspective with a harrowing couple of stories about cruelty to children. Money quote:
Animals are just animals. Their suffering is not desirable, but it's also common. And not just at the hands of people, either. Cats play with mice before they kill them. Anything that's alive in the world today is capable of cruelty.
But also (tragically) common is cruelty to children at the hands of adults who may even be responsible for their welfare. This reader wants to put this woman's cruelty into perspective on the whole spectrum of cruelty to others. Fine. Let's just not be so blasé about it. I hate to use the Nazi meme, but that perhaps took the cruelty cake. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees are dying in Darfur at the hands of their government, Rwanda had its genocidal episode, and Sarah Palin likes to shoot wolves from a helicopter. OK, so the Sarah Palin thing was thrown in there to piss off my conservative readers, but my point is that none of these episodes are worthy of being blasé. Neither, by the way, is tossing a cat into a "wheelie bin," even if one thinks that doing so is kinda funny.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Paladino laid out several plans that included converting underused state prisons into centers that would house welfare recipients. There, they would do work for the state — "military service, in some cases park service, in other cases public works service," he said — while prison guards would be retrained to work as counselors.
"Instead of handing out the welfare checks, we'll teach people how to earn their check. We'll teach them personal hygiene ... the personal things they don't get when they come from dysfunctional homes," Paladino said.
Yeah, he's gonna give Andrew Cuomo a run for his money. What a tool.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Still, politicians, especially on the right, are screaming about the deficit as if it really matters when so much of the nation is suffering.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Every so often, Andrew Sullivan posts something with the headline "Christianism Watch." It's his way of pointing to something written or said by a prominent figure on the Christianist right. (Just in case you don't know it, "Christianism" is a term coined by Andrew Sullivan in 2003, later expanded upon in 2006 in a Time magazine article:
The distinction between Christian and Christianist echoes the distinction we make between Muslim and Islamist. Muslims are those who follow Islam. Islamists are those who want to wield Islam as a political force and conflate state and mosque.... I mean merely by the term Christianist the view that religious faith is so important that it must also have a precise political agenda. It is the belief that religion dictates politics and that politics should dictate the laws for everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike.In a post today, Sullivan posts the words of American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer. After reading these words in the first sentence -- "Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero." -- this was, at least for me, not a Christianism Watch, but a Christianism warning. As Andrew writes, "The base of the GOP - aided and abetted by what's left of their elites - want a religious war abroad and at home not on Jihadism, but on Islam itself." This is a very fundamental truth that, so far, no one has really had the guts to speak aloud or publicly state, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
So, pivoting off of Andrew's words, I want to state publicly that the Republican Party of the United States will not admit it, but they want to wage war against not just Al Qaeda, or Iran, but all of Islam itself. By opposing the expression of religious freedom by Muslims in the United States they have fully embraced their roles as the pigs in George Orwell's Animal Farm, where all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Judge Walker was appointed to the federal bench by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. And the two lawyers who argued for overturning Prop 8 were Republicans. Defense witnesses in the trial could not come up with a single rational reason why banning same-sex marriage made sense. Indeed, some witnesses conceded during cross-examination that children of same-sex couples suffered no more damage from having parents of the same gender as did children of parents of different genders.
This is a great first step, but the Supreme Court (and Justices Kennedy and Scalia) await. One also wonders if opponents of marriage equality will try to seek an injunction on overturning the marriage ban until the Supreme Court weighs in. I think they'll try; I think they'll fail.
The bike riding program, started in partnership with the UN's International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, puts about 400 bikes for rent at stations around the city. It falls in very nicely with Denver's reputation for being a green-friendly city.
But green intiatives, clearly, are something that hold no appeal to the right. What does appeal to them, however, is the idea that the United States is slowly being taken over by foreigners. The candidate, Dan Maes, who is a Tea Party favorite and currently leads a former Congressman for the primary nomination, said at a campaign rally, "At first, I thought, 'Gosh, public transportation, what's wrong with that, and what's wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what's wrong with incentives for green cars?' But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty."
There is something seriously wrong with this man.
Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11, and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values and play into our enemies' hands if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists, and we should not stand for that.
For that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetimes, as important a test. And it is critically important that we get it right.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
We want [the press] to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report
the news the way we want it reported.
This woman is not stupid, and not naive. She has already gone on record stating that she avoids the mainstream press because "there's no earning for me there." In other words, she can't use the mainstream press to raise money for her campaign. She only wants press when it helps, and that's a worthwhile desire, to be sure. No one wants bad press when one is running for office. But to be so brazenly open about her contempt for traditional attempts to get at the heart of a candidate's message in an objective, non-slanted way will put reporters in the position of having to ask tougher questions to avoid looking like her stooges. And then voters will get nothing like the truth. Hmmm, sounds like textbook Republican strategy.
Fox should just give her her own show and be done with it already.
The latest incarnation of VFFW is a weekly contest on the Daily Dish website which awards a copy of Andrew photo book to the person who correctly identifies the location of the photograph. It's been an amazing display of intelligence, resourcefulness, and humor. People who correctly identified past photos even sent in pictures of themselves at the very location in the photo.
This week's entry was from Sarajevo. It was a mystery to me how people deduced it from the evidence in the photo, but this one was apparently easier than the others. However, my favorite take-away was from one reader's response:
Sarajevo? This is the best I've felt so far regarding the contest, but there is no way I can compete with folks who actually travel to or google map the exact location to the actual coordinates. Gosh, you would think Dish readers could find Bin Laden if you made it into a contest!
Uh, Secretary Gates? Call on line one.